The first Conway Services Memphis Braggin' Rights Hoopfest was a tremendous success, but after the event was done, only one question remained: who won the bragging rights? Public schools or private schools?
The unsatisfying answer was: no one.
While it is commonly assumed that public schools would dominate private schools in basketball, this was simply not the case. The carefully constructed pairings ended up leaving the two sides in a tie, 5-5, by the end of Saturday night's session.
Included in that number, however, was one game between a pair of public schools: Houston High from suburban Germantown and iconic White Station in the heart of Memphis. Houston was the designated private school for the contest, won by White Station in a rout.
So to remove the doubt from future proceedings, a very critical change was made to the format of the event. There will still be 10 games over two days, but now, one of the games is automatically removed from the total wins for each side, as a national power will be imported to tangle with a Memphis team.
That leaves 9 public-private games, guaranteeing that one side or the other will win bragging rights.
And what better school to import for the first year of the revised format than Chicago's Simeon Career Academy? The tie-in to Memphis is well-documented: it's the school where University of Memphis basketball legend and former NBA MVP Derrick Rose attended high school. It also happens to be where one Jabari Parker, known by many to be the best player in the country, now plays.
Parker was once anointed (by no less an authority than Sports Illustrated magazine) the best prep basketball player since LeBron James, who made the jump straight to the NBA out of high school in 2003. 21 players made the move after James.
The event will be hosted at two (2) different sites this year. Fittingly enough, one is a private school (Briarcrest Christian School in Eads, TN) and one is public (Arlington High in Arlington, just outside of the Memphis city limits). And Simeon will bring Parker in to play Arlington, led by Tennessee State signee Rhyan Townes, on Saturday night in the event finale.
Before that, there will be a ton of intriguing matchups and exciting basketball players on display. Friday afternoon, one of the older rivalries in Shelby County will be renewed in what we hope will be an annual matchup for our event: Germantown versus Christian Brothers. The feud was white hot through the 80s and early 90s but has since disappeared; we are resurrecting it. Tim Shaw (2014) leads a host of talent for Germantown against Charlie Oswald (2013), Josh Bougher (2014) and the Purple Wave.
Other matchups on Friday include an intriguing girls' game to get things started, Germantown (public) versus Briarcrest (private). And Sheffield will battle the Memphis Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a team which has already clipped two public schools (Arlington and Bolton) in early action. But the best game of the night will likely be White Station versus Briarcrest, the host school for Day One. Briarcrest is led by University of Memphis signee Austin Nichols, who has had some monster games in the early going for the Saints, sharpshooter Chris Hodges (2013) and point guard Donnovan Spralls (2013). The Spartans counter with Baylor commit Leron Black (2014), plus tenacious guards Chris Chiozza (2014), Davell Roby (2014) and Nych Smith (2015).
Saturday is loaded, too, before the Arlington-Simeon tilt. It gets started at 12:30 with Evangelical Christian School (ECS) sending their twin towers into battle versus Whitehaven. ECS has one of the best prospects in the country, Skal Labissiere (2015), a 6'11" stud who scores, rebounds, blocks shots and shoots clear out to the 3-point line, as well as 6'8" Alabama-Huntsville signee Cody 'Kip' Owen. Facing them from the 'Haven will be super stud Marcanvis Hymon (2014), point guard Kelvin 'Lucky' Cheatham (2016) and transfer Ladarius Wilson (2013).
The school that Wilson left, Kirby High, matches up with Briarcrest at 2:00 p.m. It's a young Kirby team but they're disciplined and scrappy. Seniors Darren Franklin and Adrial Miller transferred in, and fellow senior Eddie Pulliam is back in action to do battle Nichols and the Saints. Central Park (AL) Christian rides in with three (3) prospects 6'10" or better to confront the frenetic pace of TSSAA former state title winning Craigmont at 3:30. CPC's 6'10" Abdoulaye Gueye (2014) is one to watch, as are guard Walter Arnold (2013) and 6'5" guard Srdjan Budimir (2013, born in Russia). Craigmont relies on guard LaDarius Coleman (2014), forward Ronald Cochran (2014), and swingman Richard Mazique (2014), along with promising sophomore Teverette Cain (2015).
The Brothers wade back into action at 5:00, confronting the Millington Trojans. The Men of Troy have a deep senior class and are looking to win big, led by D-I prospect El Paso Johnson (2013) and 6'8" returnee DeCarlos Holmes, who sat out last season after some personal problems but is back for what might be his last chance to play basketball. Next up in the semi-featured contest at 6:30 is Southwind versus Lausanne Collegiate School. Southwind has a pair of prospects who are consensus top-60 in the nation (JaJuan Johnson [Marquette] and Johnathan Williams, III [Missouri]) plus 7 other seniors. The Lynx counter with Murray State signee Cameron Payne plus bouncy, tenacious forward Joseph Williams (2104).
Simeon-Arlington closes out the night, and the event, with a bang. Jabari Parker is one of the 3 biggest names in high school today, and he brings his all-around game into the Memphis area for the third time in less than a year.
It promises to be another spectacular two days of action. If you want to see the best local talent, or if you want a shot to see Jabari Parker and Simeon, this is the event for you. There will be plenty of good basketball, good food, and even opportunities to mingle with some of the best prep players in the country. And by the end of the final session, whether you prefer private school ball or public school ball, you will have one more thing: bragging rights until next year!
Friday, December 14, 2012
4:00 p.m. Germantown girls -vs- Briarcrest girls
5:30 p.m. Germantown -vs- Christian Brothers
7:00 p.m. Sheffield -vs- FCA
8:30 p.m. White Station -vs- Briarcrest boys
Saturday, December 15, 2012 @ Arlington
12:30 p.m. ECS -vs- Whitehaven
2:00 p.m. Briarcrest -vs- Kirby
3:30 p.m. Central Park (AL) -vs- Craigmont
5:00 p.m. Christian Brothers -vs- Millington
6:30 p.m. Lausanne Collegiate School -vs- Southwind