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G.R.I.N.D Issue No.1

One month down and four to go until all state championships are played. How important is it to start your season with a bang? Why are tough matchups more beneficial early on? A lot of coaches and people feel that the answer to these questions is, “YES!” It’s great to build up team morale early on with a lot of wins. With that being said, don’t allow those wins to come back and bite you in district play or the first round of the playoffs. Early tough matchups can help you later on in the playoffs, however, I have seen it destroy teams who on paper should be way better and miss out on the playoffs. Only time will tell as this 2023/2024 high school season unfolds. Let’s talk about our biggest winners of the month. We as a staff would like to honor these individuals with a strong start to the season.

Coach of the Month:

Damien Mobley is our coach of the month for November. No one saw this coming in the Greater Houston basketball community. Mobley was previously at the helm of Dallas Madison High School, a UIL 3A affiliate in which he has taken to the State Championship Tournament three out of his six years at the helm, and he won three titles in 2019, 2020, and 2022. Now if anyone other than the assistant coaches, parents of the players, or staff of Sheldon ISD said they saw this coming, they are lying. Based on all the promising years that everyone thought this team was going to be over the past couple of years have been a letdown. No one was high on this team based on that. Some figured it would take coach Mobley two to three years before he saw success as the Panthers head coach. Coach Mobley gave us some insight into what teaches and harps on as his philosophy. “Good teams can only become great teams when the members of the team trust each other enough to surrender the ME for WE,” I asked Coach Mobley his reason for coaching. “I coach because I know that basketball can be the vehicle to a successful and productive life for these young men, either in sports or whatever career they choose.” he has the Panthers off to an 11-2 start on the season.

Best Guard of the Month:

There have been some really good guard play early on this season. But our guard of the month goes to Jmar Franklin | 5’10” Sr. [C.E. King]. JMar is a quick lead guard. He has a really good handle on the ball. He has been showcasing his offensive awareness by setting up players and finding them on the court. He is a coach on the floor. He can score as the second or third option within the flow of the offensive set. He keeps his teammate's morale high also. We have watched him flirt with a triple-double on two different occasions, and against two quality opponents. He is averaging 15.6 points, 8.7 assists, and 2.9 steals per game on the season. He is a player that collegiate coaches should be talking about.

Best Wing of the Month:

The wing of the month is Sebastian Williams-Adams | 6’8” Jr. [St. John’s School]. He Has been a menace this first month of the high school season. He is a true dual forward. What do you need done, coach? Rebounding, check; protect the paint, check; guard the point guard, check; be the play initiator, check; facilitate the ball, check; be vocal, check; run the team, check. He is averaging 23.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.1 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game. While shooting 56% from the field, 44% from three-point land, and 70% from the free-throw line. He plays through contact and also has some finesse in his game. Has been a tough assignment every game. He has yet to cut his list down, as he is enjoying his junior season and trying to be better than he was on yesterday.

Best Big of the Month:

Our big of the month is Chris McDermott | 6’8” Sr. [Houston Washington]. Who else is doing what this unsigned senior is doing right now on the court? Not just locally, but within the state and even nationally. He rim runs, plays with a great motor, and has a riffle of an arm as his passes are always on the money, especially, his full-court passes. Plays both sides of the ball and protects the paint. Can play with his back to the basket and has a face-up game. Chris said he already knows where he is going to school next year for college. He said everyone will find out once the season is over. He is a big team guy and is a winner. He is averaging on the season 21.5 points, 18 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.8 steals, and 2.8 blocks per game. His scoring and rebounding numbers sound like a big from back in the 70’s.

Team of the Month:

Atascocita High School. The Eagles went through a gauntlet to start their season as they faced these TABC State ranked teams: (6A - 11# Seven Lakes, 3# North Crowley, #2 San Antonio Brennan; 5A - 1# Lancaster; and 4A - 6# Dallas Carter) They went 4-1 against ranked opponents. They have a +7.6 victory margin on the season as they currently sit at 6-3 overall (two games were forfeits). According to the strength of schedule computed algorithm, they have the toughest strength of schedule so far in the season from Greater Houston. This team also averages the most assists as a team and has taken the most charges on the season. Coach Martinez has his system and it’s been proven to work with talent and just your average high school basketball player. The Eagles are looking like an early favorite to make it to the regional tournament in 6A Region 3.

Freshman of the Month:

There have been a lot of fabulous freshmen so far, but our freshman for November is Malachi Booker | 6’7” Fr. [ St. John’s School]. He hasn’t been playing like a freshman at all. He slashes and cuts well with good hands (football player), he can knock down shots from the perimeter, and he is a tough competitor on the defensive side of the ball. He plays with a chip on her shoulder. Could it be from him playing up on the 15U level for ProSkills? He just gets after it and takes pride in competing. He is averaging 18.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1 steal per game. He is shooting 45% from the field and 33% from three-point. He has recorded 4 double-doubles out of their 9 games played.


Backcourt Duos:

There are a lot of schools with good backcourts. High School basketball is full of guards. It doesn’t matter where you go in this state or country, there are more than enough guards. This list of 10 backcourts was not easy to choose. Also, this is not in any particular order.

South Houston - features a tough backcourt duo in Jordan Buckner and Josh Larry. Jordan Buckner 6’0” | Jr. has set the school's most assists in one game record and could potentially break the all-time assists record. Josh Larry 6’0” | Sr. has eclipsed the 1,000-point mark and joins the list of top players in their school's history to have done so.

Mayde Creek - relies heavily on Jamal and Christian. These two are the machines that make the Rams go. Not your traditional high school backcourt either, as they both are taller than 6’2”. Jamal Chretien II 6’4” | Jr. thrives off the ball in catch-and-shoot situations, but he can put the ball on the floor and go get a bucket. Christian Gibson 6’4” | So. is a scoring combo guard that makes tough shots look easy.

Seven Lakes - seasoned with varsity experience and high-level play are A.J. and Nas of Seven Lakes. Anthony Bates Jr 6’3” | Sr. is arguably one of the best high school players in the area and he’s a winner. The Louisiana Tech commit is also 2x District MVP and looks to claim his third straight honor this season. Nasir Price 6’4” | So. is a nationally touted guard who is athletic and loves to compete.

Houston Christian - last season SPC Champs backcourt is back and better than ever with Montana and Chris. Montana Wheeler 5’8” | Jr. is a tough lead guard who facilitates and can score the rock. Chris Adlam 6’3” | Sr. is signed with Texas A&M Commerce and is an uber-athletic guard that also thrives in the mid-range.

Katy Jordan - the Warriors feature this duo of Elijah and Jaden to run the show. Elijah Black 6’1” | Jr. does it all on both sides of the ball. Jaden Holt 5’8” | Jr. is a speedy guard who can stop on the dime to knock down a jumper.

Cinco Ranch - features a brother duo, Prince and Dylan. Prince Jones-Bynum 6’0” | Jr. is the older of the bunch and can turn it on when he needs to. Dylan Jones-Bynum 5’10” | Fr. is one of those freshman players who has been on a tear.

Episcopal - will be looking to make noise this season with these two, Justin and Alim. Justin Begg 6’0” | Sr. is signed to George Mason University and brings experience, leadership, and toughness. Alim Olajuwon 6’3” | Fr. is very athletic and can score from anywhere on the court.

Beaumont West Brook - the Bruins feature these two prospects, Elijah and Ashton. Ashton Simmons 6’3” | Sr. is signed with Texas Christian University, and he is a physical guard who gets the job done. Elijah Garrett 6’2” | So. has that bop in his game and he plays with so much confidence.

Lake Creek - Jett and Aedan run the show for the Lions. Aedan Lewis 6’3” | Sr. is an athletic guard who just flat out gets after it. Jett Sutton 6’1” | Jr. is the mad scientist behind their early season success, and he's been a lights-out shooter so far.

Fort Bend Travis - the Tigers guards Justin and Kam look to be a problem this year. Justin Mack 6’1” | Sr. is signed to Augustana University (D2) makes the game flow effortlessly and he can drain the trey ball. Kameron Newsome 6’3” | Jr. is a tough downhill guard that finishes through contact.


Pick N’ Play Duos:

Halfcourt sets are big when it comes to crunch time. Especially the Pick-N-Roll sets, although the Pick-N-Pop sets are good too, there's nothing like a good PNR with the game on the line with under 2 minutes on the clock.

St. Francis Episcopal - the duo of John Laboy II 6’3” | Jr. who is a maestro with the ball in his hands has an outstanding pop player in Nigel Walls 6’9” | Jr. who stretches out the floor from the perimeter with his ability to knock down trey balls.

Houston Washington - Odis Carter Jr 5’9” | Sr. is quick and crafty with the ball in his hands and features Chris McDermott 6’8” | Sr. to go alongside as a really good roller. He is strong and finishes through contact, and can stretch out the floor in a pick-n-pop game.

Fort Bend Clements - tough lead guard in Divine Ugochukwu 6’4” | Sr. who has been putting on a display in the half-court set with Joshua Clark 6’11” | Sr. who has shown good hands and is finishing through contact.

College Park - with Ian Inman 6’4” | Jr. guard who turns his scoring ability into playmaking abilities to create for others like Martez James 6’6” | Sr. who uses his physicality to create separation and quickness to roll to the basket and finishes through the contact.

Fort Bend Hightower - the Hurricane's lead guard Jerrick Sasser 5’9” | Jr. utilizes his quickness and high IQ to find Milton Rice 6’6” | Sr. as both a pop guy and a roller in their halfcourt sets. Milton also likes to finish over opponents by dunking on them.


Frontcourt Duos:

The trenches are where the rebounds are won. The trenches are where gasping defensive swats are made. The trenches offer you second-chance buckets on the offensive side of things.

C.E. King - Alexander and Thomas attorney at law. This firm of Logan Alexander 6’8” | Sr. who oozes with potential is a force defensively and an alley-oop machine offensively has Christian Thomas 6’6” | Jr. who is a slashing threat who is tough once he gets going downhill.

Klein Cain - Clark and Delgado are holding down the fort. John Clark 6’8” | Jr. is the most physical rim terror offensively and interior shot swatter in the area to go along with Nick Delgado 6’6” | Sr. who can play both inside and out.

St. John’s School - Sebastian Williams-Adams 6’8” | Jr. and Malachia Booker 6’7” | Fr. as mentioned above are a dynamic frontcourt duo that will put on a show every time they step on the court together this season.

Dawson - Anderson and Smith. Charles Anderson 6’7” | Sr. who is signed on a football scholarship to Texas Tech is a force on the interior on both sides of the ball. Eddie “Ghost” Smith 6’6” | Sr. is a 250lbs brick wall who is also signed with Texas Tech on a football scholarship and brings a defensive presence.

Barbers Hill - Wake 'em up, Williams! Wesley Wake 6’7” | So. is a dynamic inside-outside modern four-man who likes to play above the rim. Aidan “Ace” Williams 6’6” | Jr. is a terror on the glass and will finish through contact with ease.


Exceptional Eight:

The month of November has come to a close. We got to witness a lot of good early matchups, as well as see some new faces start to make some noise. This Exceptional Eight will highlight eight players whose play has been loud to start this first month of high school basketball.

Bryan Bernardez | 6’4” Jr. [Houston Westbury]

He has been getting to it. The athletic junior wing has scored three 40-point games this season. Bernardez has taken advantage of his situation and has stepped up to become the guy for his squad. He will posterize you if you get caught under the rim. He is an old-school wing, a slasher on the offensive side, and a solid on-ball defender defensively. He is averaging 30.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 40% from the field.

Aiden Law | 6’3” Jr. [St. Thomas Episcopal] BSH40

Aiden has been on a mission this season. He has showcased his ability to be more than just a catch-and-shoot perimeter threat. He is leading the team in scoring on the season averaging 23.3 points per game. Has a really good feel for the game and will punish you from anywhere on the court. He is creating his shots off the dribble. If he gets a breakaway he will look to finish you at the rim. He is playing aggressively on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Chris Jones Jr | 6’2” Jr. [Pasadena Memorial]

We got to witness this prospect break the school record at the RCS Season Opener. He has been on a tear since then. He is the leading scorer on a team that features an LSU signee. Chris is shooting 41% from three-point land (3.2 makes per game out of 8 attempts per game). Almost anywhere from behind the arc he is money. He also is a really good rebounder for his size and plays the passing lanes well to get deflections and steals. He is averaging 22.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2 steals per game.

Quinton Sanders | 6’3” Jr. [Houston Wheatley] BSH40

Quinton has also been having big game after big game, as he began the season with a 40-point outing against Houston Sterling. He has been displaying his athleticism by playing above the rim. He was always a trey ball threat, but this season he is scoring on all three levels. He has the Wheatley Wildcats at 5-1 on the season. He currently sits within the top 20 (#13) in points per game in the state of Texas. Quinton is averaging 26.5 points per game on the season.

Aiden Buckmon | 6’2” Jr. [College Park] BSH40

Buckmon has been putting up some big numbers for the Cavaliers this season. He has also dropped a 40-ball this season. His ability to create for himself allows him to make plays for his teammates. He is finishing at a super high rate around the rim despite being contested on layups. He didn’t take a back seat with the added firepower, he stepped up and had a huge impact on their 8-0 success this month. He is averaging 23.3 points, 3.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game. From the field, he is shooting 64%, 42% from three-point land, and 79% from the charity stripe.

Shelton Henderson | 6’6” Jr. [Bellaire] BSH40

Shelton is a nationally touted prospect and it's easy to see why. He runs the show for the Cardinals. He is most dominant with the ball in his hands. Once he gets going downhill goodnight. At times it looks like he’s just coasting through, but he is getting to it and is active all over the court. He is averaging 18.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.6 blocked shots per game. Shooting 55% from the field and has recorded 2 double-doubles in November.

SJ Young | 6’3” So. [Willis] BSH20

SJ's game has improved tremendously from last season. Don’t get me wrong he was good as a freshman varsity starter last season, but this year he exudes that confidence and hits tougher shots. He may only be a sophomore but he is the leader on the floor. This season he is averaging 18.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 1.9 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game. Shooting 50% from the floor, 35% from three-point, and 81% from the foul line while recording 3 double-doubles out of 10 games.

Divine Ugochukwu | 6’4” Sr. [Fort Bend Clements] BSH80

Divine is showing all the doubters and naysayers who said he couldn’t play the one, that he can play the one just as well as the two. This unsigned senior has been more than just a pick-n-roll maestro on the court. He has been pulling the ball back out to run the play again or call out a new play. He is showing composure as a team leader also. This season he is averaging 20.2 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. Shooting 62% from the field, 41% from three-point, and 83% from the charity stripe.

Written by: Geoffrey Day

Ball So Hard (Owner|National Scout)

December 1st, 2023

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