Category: Amateur Sports

Day 2 of Thanksgiving Hoopfest: Kansas Vs. Texas

Let me tell you about the battle of Texas and Kansas. The Guyer Wildcats of Denton, Texas took on Sunrise Christian from Wichita, Kansas. The Wildcats are led by their crafty point guard DeVion Harmon and smooth scoring wing Jalen Wilson. Sunrise came to Dallas with 6 of the 7 biggest names in Kansas high school basketball. Of the 13 seniors that saw the court last Saturday 7 of them have committed to high major Division 1 programa.

Once the ball tipped in Duncanville, the battle of the matchups commenced. The point guards showed why colleges have drooled over them during their high school careers. Harmon took on the two-headed monster of Grant Sherfield and Bryce Cook. Cook checking into the game made for the most exciting moment of the night. He hounded Harmon for 94 feet clapping as he countered every one of Harmon’s crossover attempts.

Calling the DFW home fueled each of the lead guards to show out for their friends and family. Under the bright lights and flashing cameras, Harmon’s playmaking clashed with Cook’s fearless defense and Sherfield’s ability to pack on points in a flash. Harmon finished with 21, Sherfield with 11, and Cook with 3 each showing why they will play ball at the next level.

The game’s excitement didn’t stop with guard play. The two opposing big men are textbook examples of how the modern center plays. Juniors Jacobe Coles and N’Faly Donte battled for everything.

Coles’ finesse in the post led to several pirouette-like turnaround jump shots that found the bottom of the net for the Wildcats. He stretched the floor connecting for two big time bombs from downtown. On the defensive end, he used his size and IQ to compete in a rebounding duel with his 7-foot matchup.

Sunrise’s N’Faly Donte started the game aggressively demanding the ball, ready to make a statement for coach Calipari. As the game progressed he showed off his athleticism in the half court catching oops and slamming putbacks. As Donte becomes more comfortable with the game, he’ll truly be a standout for whichever team is lucky enough to garner his services.

Guards and bigs moved the crowd but wings moved the game’s needle. Sunrise Christian’s Jadyn Turner led his team in scoring with 12 points. Jalen Wilson joined in the fun with an efficient 16 points thanks to his smooth midrange game.

After the points were scored and defensive stops were made Sunrise Christian took the victory 71 to 55. Ending the battle between Kansas and Texas in a double digit win for the Kansas boys.

Just How Good Are the Minnesota Timberwolves?

Phillip Dixon     11/29/2018     Twitter: @PG_Anecdotes


Since the Jimmy Butler trade, the Timberwolves have been counted out of the playoff hunt. I would like to propose that they have it all wrong. The Timberwolves will make the playoffs in the west this year between the sixth and eight seeds.

When Jimmy Butler showed up  in Minnesota, I made the argument that Jimmy Butler would stunt the growth of Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns. People would argue with me as if I was crazy. Now if we look at the Timberwolves, I was at least half right.

Jimmy Butler came in with an “I’ve grind to get where I am, and everybody needs to work as hard as I do” mentality. A mentality he pushed on other teammates. A mentality that seems like it would have been more effective in the ’90s and not 2018. The kids who are growing up in this world need a LeBron type leader more than a Kobe and Michael type leader. Jimmy may not have liked it, but it’s just the way it is.

Wiggins and Towns are a product of the soft, coddled, AAU, “kiss the butt of the best player on the team” like many others of today’s generation. They needed a different environment and leader you won’t find in Jimmy Butler. After the trade, it’s no coincidence that Karl Anthony Towns numbers have skyrocketed. Double-doubles every game with ease and doing what he needs to get his team the win.

He’s getting the touches that Jimmy had previously and is running in stride with them. He is the best player on the team and has shown it every game since the departure of Jimmy Butler.

Wiggins, on the other hand, has not taken advantage. Wiggins recently had a 0/12 night with 1 point while Towns put up 35. Wiggins needs to step it up and at least average twelve. He is getting paid to score a lot more than twelve points. Much like we saw at Kansas, he’s not mentally prepared to be a dog in even the most comfortable situations.

As a franchise, the Timberwolves can only hope for the minimum from him and when they get more, count their blessings. The fantastic thing for the Timberwolves this year is that they don’t need Wiggins to be the second-best player. The person taking on that role is a player they have coming off the bench. The former MVP of the NBA, Derrick “From the Streets that We” Rose.

Derrick is back to playing at a high level. He isn’t playing the explosive, get to the rim and dunk over everyone kind of basketball that brought him fame. He is playing a smart, precise, “pick your shots smartly” kind of basketball. Along with this intelligent style of basketball comes with a three-point shot. Derrick is on pace to pass his career high in threes taken in a season, in addition, he is shooting a staggering 47% from three for the season.

It doesn’t look like he is jumping so high in the air he shoots on the way down anymore. The jump shot is textbook, every single time, and it is beautiful. If he continues to put up the numbers, he is pushing he‘ll have a chance to not only win 6th man of the year but also a most improved player. Remember last year, he was in an empty gym in Ohio shooting by himself. We’ve all seen the footage and its crazy what a year of work can look like.

The most important factor in the Timberwolves making the playoffs will be their defense. Their coach, Tom Thibodeau is known for the defensive strategies he’s used since his Boston Celtics days. The last couple years we have not seen Thibodeau level defenses. Well, if you have watched them the last couple weeks, it seems as if something has clicked and the team defense the Timberwolves are playing is beautiful and it can’t be worded any different. 

The person spearheading this defense is someone that might surprise everyone. His name is Robert Covington, yes, the same player that was traded to Minnesota from Philadelphia for Jimmy Butler. His individual defense is so good I believe he should be up for the defensive player of the year so far. If you have not seen it yet, check out the Minnesota Timberwolves the next time they are on national tv and you won’t be disappointed.

With this being said, I strongly believe this year is another playoff year for the Minnesota Timberwolves. If you don’t realize it, it might be just because they aren’t on national tv as much so many of you don’t see them as much or you might not know basketball. The Minnesota Timberwolves are much better off without Jimmy Butler and if you are a Timberwolves fan, for can look forward to having a bright future as a franchise.

Day 2 of Thanksgiving Hoopfest

Allen Pettigrew Jr.     11/29/2018     Twitter: @AP_The_Great


Sandra Meadows Arena transformed into a Roman Coliseum for Day 2 of the Thanksgiving Hoopfest. Someone armed the South Garland Colonels to the teeth to take on the deadly Vashon Wolverines. The duo of Tyrese Maxey and Chris Harris Jr. shook the ground with every move they made for the Colonels. While the Wolverines became an unstoppable force with the help of Cam’Ron Fletcher and Mario McKinney.

In normal Maxey fashion, he played the game on full tilt with incredible enthusiasm. Maxey made a living getting to the rim and converting at the free throw line. He flashed athleticism throughout the night finishing around the rim with dunks and crafty layups. He scored in bunches for the  top coaches in the country, including Maxey’s future coach John Calipari.

Maxey controlled the offense by not only putting up numbers for himself but using the attention he draws from the defense to open lanes for his teammates. I’d be underselling him if I didn’t mention his handle. In one sequence alone, he brought the crowd to their feet after blowing by a defender and putting another in a blender before making a pinpoint pass that his teammates could not convert thanks to Cam’Ron Fletcher.

At the other guard spot for the Colonels, Chris Harris Jr. was aggressive all night. After weakening the Wolverines zone with their three-point shooting, Harris Jr. attacked the basket at will. He became a complete bulldog playing both sides of the ball with one goal in mind: winning. He took advantage of every mishap the defense gave him even creating a few opportunities of his own during the game. 

For the opposing Wolverine’s Fletcher used his devastating length on the defensive end leading to deflections and the Colonels tentative shot selection. He anchored the Wolverines’ den with a true defensive mindset. He was alert and moved his feet all-night waiting for an opportunity to change one of South Garland’s shots.

On offense, Fletcher’s long arms lead to vicious dunk and timely putbacks. Fletcher’s energy was infectious! He went coast to coast several times showing his speed and athleticism. He brought this range to Dallas with a pair of threes coming off the dribble and the catch.

Mario McKinney did his own damage for the Wolverines. McKinney was in full floor general mode. His decision making was on full display finding Fletcher for several alley-oops and keeping his teammates involved. He came up clutch near the end of the game hitting a three with just over a minute to go.

While these two teams were led by their big-time players, it was the supporting cast that pushed them forward. Guys like Vashon’s Donyae McCaskill and Nicholas Kern did their thing to support their stars. McCaskill made buckets whenever the game was most tense. His ability to finish at the rim made for a nice highlight reel. Kern took the role of a glue guy, doing all the little things needed to make a Vashon win possible.

The Colonels had a few glimpses of their future come from freshman Cruz Davis. As the smallest person on the court, he made it his job to not be a weak link on defense. He drained threes and really showed off his shooting stroke and confidence during the game.

The game ended in a Vashon Wolverine victory. While the South Garland Colonels fought hard, the Wolverines took advantage when their shots stopped falling. Missouri 1 DFW 0 until next time.

The Traveling Hooper Visits the Cowtown Tip Off

Allen Pettigrew Jr. 11/23/2018
Last week’s Cowtown tipoff was a star-studded day of basketball. It packed some of the biggest names in the sport into North Crowley High School for twelve hours. The event gave us nail-biting game after nail-biting game. Viewers were treated to dunks, four-point plays, and the beauty of competition. The event started at 11 AM and the crowds only grew as time went by. The Colony against Crowley game served as our appetizer for the Saturday’s 8 course game platter. The game ended in a Colony blowout that was lead by their quartet of seniors who truly deserve their own article. They‘ll get one as the season goes on but Garren Davis, Luis Rodriguez, Bryce Okpoh, Devin Bell all need their introduction before that happens.

Davis is the teams go-to scorer who finds his shot within the offense but has the handle to create for himself and teammates when the offense breaks down. He muscles in for rebounds and pushes the pace on the break. As a 6’3 shooting guard, he’s fearless around the rim. 

The 5’9 floor general, Luis Rodriguez is a coach’s dream and nightmare rolled into one. Rodriguez has the heart to match up against bigger defenders. He shoots the lights out from three with a hand in his face and while spotting up. He uses his speed to make plays in the open court and has the control to lead during half court sets.

Okpoh serves as their 6’7 do it all combo forward who really gets after his match up while working as a rim protector. Gifted with long arms and effortless bounce he continues to be a lob threat when off the ball. He is a streaky shooter from three but he’s still a threat when left open. When defenders close out, he can use a pump fake out of the triple threat to get into the paint in just two dribbles. 

At 6’2, Devin Bell has the potential to go unconscious from three at a moment’s notice. His form is picture perfect, and he knocks down his shots whether he’s wide open or pressured by a good closeout. His ball handling limits him so he’s best shooting off the catch. He’s an excellent defender, so he’s perfect as a 3 and D defender at either wing position. 

The 5 and 4-star recruits in attendance will dominate headlines and they should, each of them had a strong introduction to their senior season. Yet the true stars were the guys who went toe to toe with them for 32 minutes. Guys like Desoto’s junior guard Dallas Craven held their own against Division one talent on the defensive in. The young guard limited Oklahoma State University commit Avery Anderson in the 15 minutes he was on the floor. At 5’10 Craven was a hound when guarding Anderson in the half court set allowing him only defended pull up jumpers when he could get a shot off. His lateral quickness and effort on the defensive end didn’t translate well to the offensive end where his clash ended in 4 points. Dallas still has another year to develop as a scorer but his defense and playmaking make him hard to keep off the court.

The night ended with Kentucky commit, Tyrese Maxey and Texas Tech commit, Jahmius Ramsey playing in front of a standing room only crowd. They glued people to their seats and posts as the highest touted shooting guards in the state went to war. Battles like these are a high school hoop heads fever dream, and it wasn’t only for the closing game. The number one ranked team in Texas led by Oklahoma University commit, De’Vion Harmon and Michigan commit, Jalen Wilson saw time on the floor during their own game. 

This DFW area basketball kickoff is a foreshadowing for what we’ll see this season. With the talent in this area, it should be a ride to remember. Welcome to the race to San Antonio.

Rookie Of The Year Race – Week 1

Allen Pettigrew Jr,                            Twitter: @AP_The_Great_                              10/23/2018

1. Trae Young

trae youngMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Trae Young has increased his stock with every game he’s played this season (only 3). Young is currently averaging 23 points per game to go along with 8.3 assists. It truly looks the number 5 overall pick is leaving off where he started at Oklahoma University.

Young is taking a high volume of shots as many people expected and that’s leading to his amazing stat line this early in the season. Before his game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday Young’s game would largely be described as inefficient. He was shooting less than 36% from the field but knocking down the three at a steady 35% clip. But after his 35 point explosion, Trae easily became one of the most efficient rookies in this early season with shooting splits of 45-39-80.

Trae, of course, isn’t without flaw. He plays defense as well as a smaller guard who doesn’t have elite quickness possibly can. Even though the young guard holds his own on the offensive end he still hurts his team when on the court posting a -4 plus/minus three games into the season. Young will have all the offensive stats needed to win the award but will his opponents and team success is enough to dampen his individual achievements.

2. Luka Doncic

luka-doncicJerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images

Luka Doncic didn’t get off to the hottest start with his shy 10 points and 5 rebounds he posted against the Suns but he’s only improved since his debut. Going into his third game of the season he’s averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game.

The young Slovenian bounced back from his debut with a massive 26 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He showed glimpses of how efficient he could be but it was enough to save his poor shooting numbers. After going 0 for 5 against Phoenix and going 4 for 9, Doncic currently sits at 28% from three. His struggles don’t stop there he’s shooting a shocking 54% after 11 tries at the stripe.

What’s even more stunning is Doncic’s 5 turnovers a game. Don’t expect the Euroleague MVP to continue this streak his craftiness will eventually shine through much like the behind the back pass he completed to Deandre Jordan. But he has shown a knack for rebounding averaging 7 a game which has surprisingly a better stat than his 3.5 assists a game. As the seasons go by I predict his shooting stroke will settle down at and his turnover ratio will become much more appealing of the most accomplished rookie in the league.

3. Deandre Ayton

deandre aytonMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s number 1 draft pick is sitting in the middle of the pack after struggling in his second outing. But after what we saw from him in his debut that 5 point game must just be a fluke. Ayton is nearly averaging a double-double at 11.5 ppg and 9 RPG with decent efficiency from the field.

 

Ayton has already experienced ups and downs in his career. His debut was spectacular tallying 18 points and 10 rebounds and showing off his touch. At 7-1 and 250 pounds you’d be right to expect Ayton to be physically opposing around the rim and he is but what is truly stunning is his ability to stretch the floor 16 feet to beyond the three-point line. Ayton is nearly as efficient around the rim as he is at stretching the floor and as that continues to expect him to climb up this list.

Thanks to Devin Booker, Ayton will have the space to operate on the post and give his team another reliable scorer. Ayton is the only rookie on this list with a positive plus-minus stat on this list and he is only one of three rookies who can boast that claim. As long as Ayton continues his efficient play and makes strides on the defensive end you can pencil him in for this award by March.

4. Jaren Jackson Jr.

jaren jacksonJustin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to be the dark horse for the Rookie of the Year award when you’re a top 5 pick but somehow Jaren Jackson Jr. is doing it but for how much longer. He’s currently averaging the most efficient shooting splits out of the entire field. While scoring 17 points a game and grabbing 6 rebounds Jackson Jr. manages to hold his own against the big boys just fine.

Jackson Jr. does it all quietly. He doesn’t have the flare that his contemporaries have but he’s taken advantage of every possession he gets. When matched up against smaller players he makes sure to bury them under the block for the easy lay-in. When used as the trailer Jackson is more than able to knock down the three with consistency at 40%. Even though he wasn’t known for his scoring prowess during the draft he’s been in his bag for the first two games of the season.

Triple J is showing a lot of savvy early in his career. His understanding of how to maneuver the pop and roll after setting a pick is obvious when you look at his shot chart. His high IQ shows on the defensive end as well, he’s currently averaging 1.5 blocks and steals a game. If he continues to shoot as well as he does and continues to standout of defense we may be looking at a borderline unicorn.

5. Marvin Bagley 

Marvin BagleyRocky Widner – NBAE via Getty Images

As possibly the best athlete on this list, Bagley has shown it even if his numbers haven’t. With the lowest points and second lowest rebound averages on this list at 12.7 and 6.7 respectfully, he’s been fun to watch. Just to add salt to the wound Bagley also gets the least amount of playing time with Sacramento crowded frontcourt.

Bagley is bar none the best rim runner on this list and it shows when you look at the numbers. He’s taken 22 of his 29 field goals within 10 feet of the rim where he’s making 63% of his shots. He’s using his size and athleticism whether running the lanes on the fast break, fighting for rebounds, and finishing over opponents in the post.

If Bagley continues his play he may be able to crack the Kings starting lineup. If he doesn’t expect him to be one of the best rookie spark plugs in the league. As Bagley becomes more acclimated to the pace of the league I expect Bagley’s shooting splits to improve as he and De’Aaron Fox continue to build chemistry.

Traveling Hoopers In Review: Los Angeles Laker Vs. Portland Trail Brazers

Phillip Dixon                                   Twitter: @65_Wizardof MO                               10/19/2018


It’s the first game people, THE FIRST GAME! Can everyone stop jumping the gun and settle down. This morning when waking up and going straight to my phone because I’m a millennial, I started out my daily routine by checking YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter immediately. In between all three of these different outlets, I continued to see common topics being discussed by sportswriters and personalities. “Did last night show that Lonzo ball does not mesh well with the new Lakers” and “Did last night show who the better point guard was on the Lakers team”. People, can we please all calm down? I know this is the era of the twenty-four-hour sports news cycle, so you have to come up with some wack topics to discuss to fill up time, but this was immediately after the game. We could be talking about many other things that make sense to the context of this being the first game for Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers, but to jump the gun like I have been seeing is ridiculous. 

Lonzo-Ball-5Andrew D. Bernstein-NBAE

The Lakers looked interesting all together. Yes, we all still have to get used to seeing Lebron in a Lakers jersey, but that time will come quickly for all of us because we all know this is the Lakers we are talking about so even if it has to get stuffed down our throats (which it will), we will get used to it because we will see them on tv all the time. Just like most game ones of new teammates coming together, we saw that the chemistry was not there quite yet. This is definitely not an issue though. The Lakers have players with too high of IQ’s though so that won’t be a problem. You just have to what sports media. Yes, give them time.

cj and dameJaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

So, excluding the sloppiness of the Lakers, the Trailblazers backcourt looked fantastic as always. The Lakers apparently can’t win in Portland and that did not change for sure last night. But, as a team that shoots a lot of threes, will this strategy work for them in the long run. IT hasn’t worked yet because they exit the playoffs early every year. This style of play is good for the regular season and the beginning of the season especially but outside of Golden State who are the outliers, we have yet to see success. The style of play last night that I saw from the Lakers seems like it is more lasting and at the end of the day will bring about more success. We shall see throughout the course of the season. I hope I’m wrong because Dame and C.J. deserve to go far in the playoffs but I’m positive I’m not wrong. Let’s just say that.

3 of College Basketball’s Most Exciting Player This Season

Calvin McGowan   |   Twitter:@Cmcgowanii   |   10/19/2018


The NBA season has begun, and college and high school ball start in November. Basketball is back stateside ladies and gentlemen! And with that, all the hot takes, pontificating, and general nonsense that entails. I come to you today to only contribute to one of these things.
Today, I come to talk about college basketball. More specifically, I come to talk about a few of college basketball’s most exciting players. Do you only watch basketball to see dudes get put on posters? Do you look for defenders to be embarrassed night in and night out? Do YOU, dear reader, want, desperately, to see the type of ball handling that puts defenders on skates? Well… two out of three ain’t bad. Here (in no particular order) are four college basketballs most exciting players this upcoming season.


Mike Daum 6’9: 235 F Sr South Dakota St

mike D(Dec. 4, 2017 – Source: Peter Aiken/Getty Images North America)

This bucket getting big man was one of only 4 players last season to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. If you ever feel compelled to ask what he’s doing on the basketball court, the answer is always whatever he wants. He has a solid post game and stopping from getting to the hoop is a bit like trying to stop a train. He may not be getting to the hoop fast, but you’re certainly not about to stop him. Couple that with the fact that he’s a very good shooter knocking down 42% of his shots from beyond the arc, and you have one of the most fascinating, and unstoppable offensive forces in college basketball today.


Zion Williamson 6-7 285 F Fr Duke

Zion W(Photo: Jeff Blake, USA TODAY Sports Images)

If you like basketball and haven’t been living under a rock, you know about Mr. Williamson here. And if you know about him you, you know about him for one reason, and one reason only.

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Yes, Zion Williamson is a highlight reel waiting to happen. Athletically, this young man is an anomaly. He’s 285 lbs. with next level body control and can jump out of the gym. Make no mistake, though, for all the of his athleticism and skill, Williamson isn’t what you would call “a shooter”. If your life depended on somebody hitting a 3, you don’t want that person to be him. Fortunately for us though that means that his athleticism and tenacity guarantee that he’ll be spending the season making highlight reels and putting people on posters.


Kerwin Roach, II 6’4″ 180 G Sr Texas

Kerwin RAndrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

This young man is a tough defender averaging 1.5 steals a game and is respectable from three shooting 36% from deep. One of my favorite players in college basketball, he’s a competitor that consistently finds ways to contribute. Roach was also responsible for some of the best dunks in college basketball last season. He’s a surprising explosive athlete given his wiry frame. He put people on posters as often as anyone in college basketball last year. The problem was inconsistency. Roach played like one of the best players, and the Longhorns one of the best teams, in college basketball about as often as not. Here’s to hoping for more consistent play, and more posters.

Traveling Hoopers In Review: Philly Vs. Boston

Phillip Dixon                                                                                                                       10/17/2018


Like every year when it comes to the very first game of the NBA season, you have to exclude the first five minutes of the game. No matter how big you get, there are going to be jitters. No matter how many shots you put up in the off season, there are going to be jitters. Going along with those jitters, each player has a massive adrenaline rush flowing through their body. So massive that that its visible. With this being the case, of course the ball will be shot harder, then the next time down court the over compensation happens then the ball is shot short. Even though these players seem like super hero’s to most, they still have the same human impulses as everyone else.

Excluding that those first couple minutes though, this was a good game! Excluding the fourth quarter as well. With this first game of the NBA season, I noticed very specific things from both teams that showed promise.

First let’s start with the 76’ers. The fact that Ben Simmons is at least taking the mid-range jumper says something to me. At times last year, he would be wide open and refuse to take the jump shot. Yes, this is still early in the season but the fact that he was willing to take what the defense was giving him showed a level of confidence in his own game that he needs to take his game to another level. Going along with jump shots, Markelle Fultz definitely caught my attention. His jump shot of course does not look as pure as it did in college but, from the pullup midrange, it looked solid. No disgusting hitch at the point of release or anything. Now, it was obvious that he doesn’t have much chemistry with the team yet but it’s only the first game. He is skilled enough and too hard a worker for him to not work out. Markelle is truly the X factor of that team this NBA season.

Of course, with the Boston Celtics you have a team that is arguably the most talented team from top to bottom along with the Golden State Warriors. Somehow kyrie looked rusty. Even his handle did not look as poetic as it had been the previous year on a regular basis. Once again, this is the first game but that was obvious when it came to him. Also, many of his shots did not fall from three-point range. Many of those shots were not rhythm shots but that is no excuse for Kyrie; he has made a career making shots that are out of rhythm. I would be slaughtered if I did not mention Gordon Hayward. Yes, it is an exciting thing that he is back on the court from his horrific season ending injury last year, but I believe he does not need to do nearly as well as he would’ve last year for this Boston Celtics team to win an NBA championship this year.

Jayson Tatum has essentially stolen that role from him. Jayson Tatum is the biggest upgrade from Gordon Hayward that the Boston Celtics couldn’t have possibly expected. Jayson Tatum is a future MVP in this league and the first game of this season was the starting off point to a truly magnificent career for the franchise player. And I can’t forget about Scary Terry. Terry Rozier is a magnificent backup point guard for the Celtics. He added a burst of energy every possession he was involved with in the game verses Philly. Especially when he sent Joel Embiid’s shot back to the liberty bell. We may be looking at a six man of the year recipient.

The Traveling Hooper Can’t Miss in Mississippi

The hoops scene in Mississippi has been shrouded in darkness for far too long. While the area may not have the largest names in basketball, the players have certainly made a name for themselves. Amidst controversy, groundbreaking decisions, and jaw-dropping talent this state stands out from the rest.

Image result for mississippi

While falling short of the 100-player mark, Mississippi has been able to produce two Hall of Famers: Spencer Haywood and Chet Walker. The more well-known player of the two is Spencer Haywood. The eventual 1970 Rookie of the Year was not only a winner on the court but in the courtroom. Haywood would have to win a groundbreaking case against the NBA; all before lacing up his shoes for the Seattle Supersonics. This case would overturn the eligibility rule stating that a player must be four years removed from their high school graduation date before going to the NBA. Haywood would take the league by storm racking up points, rebounds, and many other accolades including a championship over his 13-year career.

Image result for spencer haywood vs nba

The struggles for players from this state do not end with Haywood. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf stood out as one of the most talented shooters that the NCAA and NBA have ever seen. After an insane collegiate career filled with 50-point games and accolades galore at LSU, Abdul- Rauf was drafted 3rd overall to the Denver Nuggets. He soon made his name as one of the NBA’s best shooters off the dribble and at the free throw line during the 90’s. But his career was not without controversy once he began his protests during the national anthem.

Image result for Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

The results led to a slow exile from the league cutting into the prime of Mahmoud’s career. There have been many interviews throughout the years with Mahmoud standing by his decision and showing dedication to his cause. His actions today would align him with Colin Kaepernick; he’s even been documented showing support for Kaepernick’s movement.

Not all of The Magnolia State’s players went through political or legal strife. Monta Ellis the state’s most famous basketball player since the turn of the century, developed his game in some of the most unique surroundings in Jackson, Mississippi. Blessed with blinding speed and a bulldog mentality, Ellis quickly separated himself from his peers and his hometown. While electrifying high school courts across the state, Ellis’ stardom rose to allow him to be one of the last prep to pro athletes.

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Through all the trials and tribulations athletes from this state have had to endure they still find a way to stay on top. Whether winning lawsuits, being the Big 3 league’s Steph Curry impersonator, or working their way back into the NBA one thing is obvious, obstacles only make them stronger. Hoopers from Mississippi don’t receive the same exposure as most states yet they still produce several major division one athletes every year. Mississippi might just be the nation’s diamond in the rough for talent.

The Traveling Hooper Goes for Gold in Georgia

Few places have a brighter future than Georgia’s hoops scene. It’s brimmed with elite talent at every level and is growing by the day. Georgia is part of the few, lucky states boasting over 100 athletes who have made it to the NBA. The home of Hall of Famer and NBA fashion icon Walt Frazier, has established itself as a breeding ground for D1 Hoopers since the onset of the ESPN top 100 era.

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Georgia is home to some of best young talent at every level in basketball. The state will have four representatives playing at the Junior National team minicamp in October. This haul includes consensus top 50 recruits, Isaac Okor from the class of 2019. Top 25 recruits, Sharife Cooper  and Brandon Boston form the class of 2020. Joined by incoming high school freshman Dillon Hunter. This camp continues to crank out the best of the best with so many of the selected few going professional shortly after they’ve graduated. While these four young men may be reaping the benefits of their hard work, there are 22 others prospects from Georgia in the 2019 and 2020 recruiting classes who have garnered attention of their own.

Georgia will also have two top 15 prospects playing for the NBA draft factory, University of Kentucky. Both EJ Montgomery and Ashton Hagans have a shot at being the starters after strong showings during their Bahamas exhibition games. Hagans will bring an undeniable defensive presence at point-guard that Kentucky hasn’t had since Tyler Ulis left for the NBA. Montgomery on the other hand, will have to fight through a crowded front court of five star recruits who have a year of experience at the college level. Whether they get the starting gig or not, believe that both of these young players will have major parts in Kentucky’s success.

At the professional ranks, Georgia has a healthy of mix veteran and young talent. Dwight Howard and Josh Smith are both high flying, defensive-minded, big men who have been playing in the league since 2005. Not only are they multiple time All-Stars, they also played on the same AAU team growing up. The younger group is lead by Jaylen Brown and Malcolm Brogdon. Neither hooper used their youth as an excuse when taking on the biggest challenge in the league in, guarding and dunking on LeBron James.

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Georgia has been a consistent producer of elite talent from the conception of the NBA. Hoopers from this area have learned to maximize their athleticism to put them in the best position possible to achieve their dreams and win at the highest level. Their in-game maturity is highlighted by the heady plays they’re able to make from the start of their careers. If those are signs of things to come, then Georgia’s basketball lineage is in good hands.