The fifth annual Memphis -vs- Atlanta Roundball Classic returns to Memphis, TN this year. Games will be played on the campus of Memphis University School (MUS, 6191 Park Avenue) in East Memphis, just minutes from I-240. The event covers two (2) days this weekend, Friday December 7th and Saturday December 8th.
Two (2) games on Saturday will be played at the Hutchison School (1740 Ridgeway Road), adjacent to MUS.
Event organizer Revelle Williams points out that there is a lot at stake in this year's games.
"This is to break the tie," Williams said. "Memphis teams won the classic in 2008 and 2009. Atlanta teams won in 2010 and 2011. We'll see who comes out on top and takes the lead this time."
There are 10 games pitting five (5) Atlanta -area teams against nine (9) teams from the Bluff City-area. The opening game, featuring host MUS against Harrison, is not included in the 9 games for bragging rights.
Included in the field are defending Tennessee AAA champions East High School and traditional AAA powers Melrose, Ridgeway and White Station. Also included this year is Hamilton, another AAA power, with a top 20 national prospect in both the 2015 (K.J. Lawson) and 2016 (Dedric Lawson) on their roster.
AAA is Tennessee's highest prep level, with 10 of the last 11 champions coming from Memphis.
Atlanta is braced, too, with Harrison, Martin Luther King and Westlake all coming off state title tournament appearances to end the 2011-'12 season in 5-A, Georgia's highest level of competition. Eagle's Landing, meanwhile, made their fourth consecutive Final Four in 3-A and Columbia won their third state title in their seventh consecutive AAA Final Four appearance.
Basketball games normally come down to a pair of factors: matchups and players. This event is stellar in each regard.
Columbia (GA), for instance, is led by Auburn commit Tahj Shamsid-Deen, while their Memphis-area opponent, Arlington, leans on Tennessee State signee Rhyan Townes. That game is followed by a clash between Westlake (GA) and Memphis East. Westlake's attack is fueled by Tony Bagtas (Pennsylvania commit) and 2015 star Kejuan Johnson, who already has offers from Georgia Tech and St. John's along with scores of other interested schools. East has Matthew Butler and Memphis commit Nick King, and the defending Tennessee AAA champs just played the consensus #1 team in the country, Huntington Prep (Andrew Wiggins plus 4 high D-I commits), tough in a 74-59 loss at the Marshall County Hoopfest. This should be a fantastic contest.
Perhaps the most intriguing matchup on Day One is at 8:00 p.m. Eagle's Landing (GA) has an impressive clutch of talent. They've imported transfer Chris Davenport from Montverde (FL) Academy to go along with the massive Desmond Ringer (South Carolina commit) and Eric Wortham (Middle Tennessee commit). They also trot out Isaiah Dennis and junior Jordan Sessions. Opposing them are the Memphis Hamilton Wildcats, led by an impressive set of senior guards (Crishun Brown, Chris Burse, Tyren Collier and others) along with transfer Keelon Lawson (2015, played for State champion East last year), plus a pair of impressive freshmen: 6'8" Dedric Lawson and 6'2" Romero Hill.
The final game of Friday night is a true marquee matchup: M.L. King (GA) versus Memphis White Station. A pair of 2014 studs, Paul Jackson and Greg King, lead M. L. King, while White Station counters with a trio of high D-I prospects from 2014: Leron Black (Baylor commit), Chris Chiozza and Davell Roby, plus 2015 star Nych Smith.
Saturday morning, Cameron Payne (2013, Murray State signee) leads the Lausanne Lynx against the Harrison (GA) Hoyas, and Columbia challenges Tim Shaw (2014) and the Germantown (TN) Red Devils. That sets the stage for the third session Saturday evening.
M.L. King (GA), with Jackson and Greg King in the forefront, face off against the Houston Mustangs, one of the drakhorse teams in the area. It promises to be an intense battle. Jerry Johnson, a sharpshooting guard who transferred in from Wooddale, leads the offense, along with underappreciated talents like the 6'7" Sasha Soblev in the post and 6'3" combo guard Keith "K.J." Collins. Bagtas and Westlake then return to action, this time against Memphis Ridgeway. The Roadrunners are led by guards Jonathan Burroughs-Cook, De'Sean Dockery, Greg Pryor and Kevin Shields and are a typical Wes Henning group, playing stingy defense while being opportunistic on the offensive side.
The session and event conclude with Eagle's Landing rolling out their deep, talented team against the defending Tennessee AAA state champions, East. Nick King returned to action over the weekend at the Kentucky Hoopfest following an early-season ankle injury. He looks to continue his strong play after looking good against national #1 Huntington Prep. He and Matthew Butler are primed to help lead the city of Memphis to victory in this year's Memphis -vs- Atlanta Classic.
It all promises to be a tremendous event once again, and the idea is that one metropolitan area--either Memphis or Atlanta--will reign supreme for another year.
Dec. 7th, Session I - Memphis University School (6191 Park Avenue)
3:30- Harrison, GA. vs. MUS, TN.
5:00- Columbia, GA. vs. Arlington, TN.
6:30- Westlake, GA. vs. East, TN.
8:00- Eagle's Landing, GA. vs. Hamilton, TN.
9:30- M.L. King, GA. vs. White Station, TN.
Dec. 8th, Session II - The Hutchinson School (1740 Ridgeway Road, next door to MUS)
2:30- Harrison, GA. vs. Lausanne, TN.
4:00- Columbia, GA. vs. Germantown, TN.
Session III - Memphis University School
6:00- M.L. King, GA. vs. Houston, TN.
7:30- Westlake, GA. vs. Ridgeway, TN.
9:00- Eagle's Landing, GA vs. East, TN.