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G.R.I.N.D. Vol.3

January is in the books and now it's time to buckle down for the playoff ride. Congrats to every team who made a statement in January within their districts. There have been some really great battles and in-district rivalry games that have left an impact on this playoff push. Some teams are already locked in the playoffs but we will save that for a different article as well as the UIL realignment makeup. Let’s take a dive into our monthly awards. This monthly article also features a Grassroots segment, the top 15 high school venues in Greater Houston, and our staff picks on who to be on the lookout for in the UIL playoffs. 


Coach of the Month: 

Frank Watson has the Trojans rolling over at South Houston High School. Coach Watson is in his third year as head coach and has them looking like he’s had this program for a decade. This season they currently are 24-6 overall and 8-0 in district play as of January 31, 2024. He has an overall record of 62-35 winning 64% of his contests and a 22-12 district record winning 65% of his contests all as of January 31, 2024. South Houston still has 4 games left on the schedule that could give him 28 wins which would be the school record for most wins in a season, the record currently sits at 26 wins and that was in the 2010/2011 high school season. There has been a lot of record-breaking going on over there this year for the Trojans. Coach Watson had some success everywhere he stopped as an assistant in helping turn around programs so it should come as no surprise when he became the captain of a ship it would be no different. How difficult was it coming in as the new head coach to change the basketball culture at South Houston to get it back like it was in the 2010s era? “Very difficult, I spend nearly 6 days a week during the regular season at the school doing workouts, film sessions, practices, strategizing practice plans, film sessions and workouts, doing player meetings for all program teams, and enforcing our academic and behavioral code of conduct and program pillars. It’s been a serious grind. Most of the kids here haven’t played any competitive sports consistently. Other sports at the school typically struggle to win. But the kids here when motivated and bought in, the kids here are some of the best to coach up because they are willing to be pushed hard consistently when they see success and development within themselves. As the win the day everyday mentality set in the program has seen wins. Our JV is also first in the district along with varsity and that doesn’t happen here often. During the spring and fall “off-season” we go five days a week and during the summer four days do the same activities listed above.” What is your coaching philosophy? “Building unity, work ethic, and focus, among student-athletes to cultivate lifelong success.” How do you keep your players focused on the next game and motivated when everyone in the district is gunning for you? “We do game recaps and scouting reports for each district game that address mistakes and achievements. Each player has a non-negotiable role. I think with preparation comes peace and confidence that carries over to games.”

Best Guard of the Month: 

This guard has been having the biggest year of them all Divine Ugochuckwu | 6’3” Sr. [Fort Bend Clements]. He has been making winning plays as a facilitator, scorer, and defender. Talk about bringing a winning value to the table and putting your teammates in a position to be successful, look no further than Divine. He is yet to lose a game this season (26-0) and the saying goes a point guard is measured by his wins. He is good in pick-n-roll sets within the half-court, and he also thrives in transition where he is always looking to posterize an opponent under the rim. His numbers for January’s 8-0 stint are 18.3 points, 7 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game. Shooting 54% from the field (7.1/13.1) and 37% from three-point land (1.6/4.3) and has had two double-doubles. He is the best unsigned senior guard in the city, the state, and the region (Southwest, South Central, or South) whichever one you want to claim. College coaches trust this one is a no-brainer straight out of high school. 

Best Wing of the Month: 

The wing of the month is Shelton Henderson | 6’6” Jr. [Bellaire] This junior has been having himself a season this year. It’s easy to see why he has national status written all over him. He is so explosive when he gets downhill. He has a really good handle on the ball also and his frame allows him to finish through contact with ease. In January, we saw his shooting field goal percentage rise high with the return of his PG from a season-ending injury last year. His January averages were 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 3.5 steals, and 2.1 blocks per game while going 7-0. He is shooting 60% from the field (8/11.5).

Best Big of the Month: 

Our big of the month is Robert Miller | 6’10” Sr. [Pasadena Memorial]. Robert has had an impactful January. The Louisiana State University signee has been productive and has been a huge reason why they went 7-1 in January. He also averaged 21 points, 14 rebounds, 6 blocks, and 3 steals per game over the 8-game skid. When catching the ball in the post, he is most effective, as he scores the ball 73% of the time and gets an assist 15% of the time. He has a good vision from the post to make plays for others as he draws a lot of attention. He is the state leader in blocked shots per game according to MaxPreps. 

Team of the Month: 

Our team of the month for January is Fort Bend Marshall High School. The Buffalos went 9-0 in January and currently hold a 27-2 record on the season while going 10-0 in district play so far. The Buffs have legendary Coach Ronnie Courtney who has 738 wins as a high school head coach and is a back-to-back state champion as coach in 2000 and 2001, as well as winning another state title in 2010. Marshall is averaging 62.1 points per game and holds a margin of +29.4 over their opponents for the 9 games of January. They also are on a 10-game winning streak right now. The Buffs feature strong play from junior guard Eian Lowe who is the machine that gets it all going. This lightning-quick guard makes big-time reads on the floor and gets a lot of really good paint touches. Defensive anchor in junior wing Kevin Sargent who is more like a Swiss Army Knife player, he just does a little bit of everything and makes winning plays on the floor. Senior Chris Catchings who is inked with the Air Force Academy to play ball next year has been big in their success as well. 

Freshman of the Month:

There have been a lot of fabulous freshmen so far, but our freshman for January is Xavier Muhhamad | 6’5” Fr. [South Houston]. Xavier has been playing this entire season like a tenured varsity player. If this freshman sprouts up sheesh look out. He wears a size 18 shoe as a 15-year-old. A few pros wear size 18 (Durant & DeAndre Jordan), and both are 6’10” in stature. We don’t know how tall he is going to grow but we're just saying. This year he has already set the school record for rebounds in a single season. I wonder how close is he to setting the school record for rebounds in a career, and how soon will he break it. He is strong and uses his strength to his advantage. He is a rim grazer right now and has had multiple dunks on the season, but in the years to come, he will be dunking on people left and right with ease. Runs the floor well and is a good interior defender. On the season he is averaging 9.1 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game, he is shooting 56% from the field.  He will be a fun one to watch over the years. 


Top 15 High School Venues 

During the 2023/2024 season, our staff has been to games. We have watched some good basketball contests, some bad basketball games, and a couple of ugly blowouts also. What makes a venue top tier? We as a staff feel that a lot goes into being a top high school basketball venue. A good team for starters plays a factor because it brings about crowds. A hostile crowd (high school student section, parent fans, relatives of players, old alumni fans both young and old who get rowdy as well.” The gymnasium setup also, smaller gymnasiums always are louder but it doesn’t always make it a good venue. The music they play sets the tone during warmups and halftime, however, we give the edge to having your HS band which is rarely seen in basketball in Texas. Just a little hint add the band and you will get their parents out to the games, which equals more people in the stands, which makes it a louder environment, and more money from the gate, that was for free you can thank me later. Last but not least are the concession stands. Trust us it has been some bad concession stand service drinks room temperature, microwaved hot dogs and nachos, and cold nacho cheese. Here is our list of the Top 15 High School Basketball Venues from this season. This list is not in any particular order.
















In the comment section tell us your favorite high school basketball venue to attend and why.


Gearing Up for Grassroots Basketball

It’s that time of the year again. We have seen tryouts take place as early as the first Sunday in January.  Who will be fooled once again? Who will fall for the lies only to form a team by May? 

Dear parents,

Please ask the tough questions. I know you’ve heard the old saying everything that glitters ain’t gold. Things may look good from the outside but once you're in it, it’s not what you signed up for. This happens every year. Why you asked, because parents don’t do their research, and because parents have an unrealistic expectation of who their kid is on the basketball court. Everyone wants their kid to be the star or the main guy on a team. Let’s be honest here, everyone is not equal and basketball is not an equal-opportunity sport. There is nothing wrong with buying into a role on a team. 

If Greater Houston averages around 20 D1 players a year it is already 13 players in the 2025 class who are certified locks to garner a NCAA D1 Scholarship. So where will the other 7 or so come from? 12 of the 13 players are playing with Shoe Circuits, and the other is playing on the secondary shoe circuit. I counted a possible 12 more who may land somewhere depending on how they play, and where they play. Most of these kids have not decided yet on where they are playing but some will be on shoe circuit main teams. 

Below is a study conducted by Ball So Hard in the past 7 years that we have been around in Greater Houston. This is compiled of only Greater Houston players. I know that some shoe teams play with out-of-the-area players, but we only count them for the program percentage we do. Parents this is another great tool to use to see the success of the program in sending kids to play collegiately. Not everyone is an NCAA D1 and that's okay, there are other ways that you can still go to college and get it paid for or the majority of it paid for. 


Players to Watch Heading Into The UIL Playoffs

Each staff member picked two players to watch heading into the UIL playoffs. Only some players may be the focal piece for their high school squads, however their role will be huge this playoffs. We are just weeks away from the big chase, THE ROAD TO SAN ANTONIO, where it's win or go home time. We have even included the public via a survey on Twitter ‘X” by asking two players to watch headed into the playoffs. 

Rob C Pick’s

Elijah Black

5’11” | Katy Jordan | 2025

Elijah has improved his game this year. The biggest improvement I have seen is his basketball IQ. He’s been playing more of a lead guard and is integral in leading Katy Jordan to a potential playoff position. His defensive awareness and on-the-ball defense have been refreshing to see. He’s been making sure that opposing teams can’t get into their correct sets and that’s going to be a significant factor in his recruitment process. He’s always been able to shoot but his ability to be an extension of Coach Jones is another important attribute.

Brady Willis

6’5” | Katy | 2026 

When discussing what position certain kids are on the court, sometimes just being classified as a basketball player is good enough. Brady fits this mold to a tee. He’s a do-it-all forward who’s propelled Katy from a non-playoff team to a playoff team that could be a dark horse to spoil someone’s season. His energy and activity around the basket is infectious. He just brings it every night, whether it’s guarding someone bigger than him or giving his body up for the betterment of the team. Willis is the type of kid that you wish you had 10 of on the team.

Jaylon Warren Pick’s

Jayden Davis

6’6” | Nederland | 2025

Jayden is a presence that you want on the interior to protect your house, especially during the playoffs where championships are built off the defensive end. He is a tenacious rebounder also and pulls down boards with aggression. He also is a rim-running machine and can finish with both hands around the rim. He does a lot of the much-needed dirty work for the Bulldogs. He will be very important to their run. He is averaging 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots per game on the season.   

Aidan Williams

6’6” | Barbers Hill | 2025 

Aidan or Ace, has been having a great high school season. He plays well in the high post and on the block. He even has been knocking down some perimeter shots. Another defensive anchor for my pick, because when I need a stop or big-time defensive play, I feel like you can count on Williams to deliver. He has been guarding the opponent's best player every game and I’m talking guards to bigs. He will be huge for the Eagles in the playoffs. Ace is putting up 15.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.2 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game on the season.

G.Day Pick’s

SJ Young

6’4” | Willis | 2026

Shawndick “SJ” is only a sophomore, but he is that dude for the Wildcats. He will be a force in the playoffs.  SJ has improved on his perimeter play as a shooter and defensively also. He has been an on-ball stopper in several games with quick hands and good lateral movement. He also is an exceptional rebounder for his position. His playoff play will be huge for the Wildcats. He is averaging 17.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. With 67 made three-pointers at 35%.

Kohlman Dutton

6’3” | Bellaire | 2025 

Kohlman is back and healthy. He has been back for the last 18 games now, and since being put back in the starting rotation he has the Cardinals on a 16-game win streak.  Kohlman's play at the lead guard position has been huge as he makes the right plays and gets his teammates going. His ability to drain deep trey balls and beat his opponent off the dribble relieves pressure from his running mates, which allows everyone to be able to play more freely within the flow of the offense. He is averaging 10.4 points, 4 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. All of his best games have been against other playoff teams. 

Gary “The Baller Plug” Picks

Aziz Olajuwon

6’4” | Fort Bend Clements | 2026

Aziz has a bigger role this year and his play is a part of the reason why the Rangers are successful. Aziz is a really good catch-and-shoot player it doesn't matter if he is stationary or on the move. He also can play above the rim and is a solid defender. His ability to be a third or fourth option within the offense and still be productive will be huge for the Rangers in the playoffs. His stats on the season are 12.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. 

Aedan Lewis

6’4” | Lake Creek | 2024 

Adean is an unsigned senior who has been having a really good senior campaign. He is very athletic and gets at least one dunk a game. His ability to finish through traffic is big for the Lions. He continues to improve on his shooting from the perimeter but when he is on he makes it hard for opposing teams. His ability to guard multiple players on the floor is the real key to the Lion's success this season. He is averaging 17 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. 

The People’s Choice Twitter “X”

Aiden Buckmon

6’2” | College Park | 2025

Buckmon was the latest to join the 1,000-point club. He has been on a tear this season for the Cavaliers. He is a big-time shot-maker from the perimeter as he has drained 60 trey balls while shooting 46% from three-point land. He is a good ball handler as well and can play with and without the ball in his hands. His play will be huge as the Cavaliers make their run in Region II.  He is averaging 20.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2 steals per game. 

Avion Jackson

6’3” | Atascocita | 2024 

Avion is having a really good senior campaign also. He is a part of the “Pick Your Poison Eagles,” which at any moment could have a tremendous outing. His consistent play as a guard/wing player is prodigious on the court. He is a utility player. Need me to score coach I got you, need me to guard a big because our bigs are in foul trouble I got you, need me to guard the best player I got you. You name it he does it and he brings it every game. He will make a collegiate program happy one day. His numbers on the season are 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game.

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