Greatness was upon us on Saturday & eighth grader Chris Lockett was the reason behind that. The eighth grade phenom impressed in front of a big crowd showing why he is one of the best young prospects not just in the state, but in the country.
With so many talented prospects playing in the game, Lockett was definitely the showstopper displaying that he is a big time scorer to go with laser like vision & some superb passing. The 6-4 point guard led his team to a 73-67 win over the West. Lockett earned MVP honors finishing with a triple double (29 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists). It’s no doubt that this kid’s ceiling is through the roof & that’s scary to say. Yes he still has things in his game that he has to improve on like shooting the ball well consistently, but make no mistake about it this kid has a skill set that you just don’t see in kids at this age. Lockett was suppose to make an announcement during halftime of the All-Star game on what high school he will be attending next fall, but elected to wait until his middle school graduation May 16th to decide.
East all-star Hubert Caliste was very impressive finishing with 14 points & 6 assists. Caliste showed that he is somebody to be on the lookout for when he gets to high school as well. His ability to get to the cup & score over defenders with his length makes him very intriguing going forward. Caliste also showed that he can knock down shots from beyond the arc when needed.
The West All-Stars was led by Jamian Buxton a.k.a Big Baby, who finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, & 2 blocks. Buxton was a force down low & every defender that try to guard him was clearly outmatched. The 6-2 215 pound Buxton has exceptional feet work & is very agile for a kid his size at this age. If you think he’s impressive on the hardwood you have to see him on the football field. Buxton will be one of the best two sport athletes in the state the next four years when he takes his talents to high school. One very accomplished high school head football coach stated, “Big Baby will be a first round NFL draft pick if he keeps progressing & working hard.”
Tamaj Vergin won defensive MVP for the West & he took the challenge of guarding Chris Lockett every chance he got. Vergin finished the game with 13 points & 5 steals. He was at his best in transition because of how explosive & strong he is once he got to the cup. Vergin’s competitive nature is what impressed many of the coaches in attendance which leads many to believe his ceiling is super high. He is also a two sport athlete & is somebody to be on the lookout for on the football field.
Ahmonte Watkins will be looked at as one of the top athletes, if not the top athlete in Louisiana for the 2021 class soon enough & a few power five programs have taken notice. The 5-10 175 pound stud picked up his first offer from the University of Virginia in late January & now Colorado has extended an offer. Mel Tucker & his staff have invaded the boot in recent weeks offering some big time prospects trying to make their mark quickly.
Watkins has had a lot of success on the track for Riverside Academy as of late winning track MVP in his last meet by running a time of 10.3 in the 100 meter & a 21.5 in the 200 meter. His speed is what separates him from many of the running backs in Louisiana regardless of class.
The soon to be junior has been getting the attention of some major programs like LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Mississippi St, & many more. No doubt that Watkins will become a household name sooner than later & he should start to see several big time programs extend an offer going forward into the summer.
Daran Branch is a prospect to keep an eye on this spring & summer for sure. I expect a lot of schools to be dropping by Amite high school during spring practices to further evaluate Branch. The 3-star prospect is the most intriguing out of all the defensive backs in Louisiana for the 2020 class because of his 6-2 190 pound frame. Miami is the latest to offer Branch, but he also holds offers from Auburn, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Kansas, Oklahoma St, & many more. Of course LSU defensive back coach Corey Raymond is keeping tabs on Branch’s progression & look for him to be further evaluated at LSU’s elite prospect camp this summer. Virginia & the University of Houston are also some schools that could extend an offer to Branch soon.
Branch had some pretty good showings the last few weeks competing at the Nike Opening & Under Armour camps. Branch was at his best when he was in press man giving receivers fits getting off the line.
Branch showed a lot of versatility playing safety & corner the last few years, but ultimately I see him playing a rover type role in college with the ability to still be able to play a little outside corner depending on the team’s scheme. Because of his aggressive nature to be able to make a impact as a sure tackler in the run game, Branch has the potential to be a real complete defensive back if he can put it all together. If he can show more discipline in pass coverage & rely on his technique, this kid’s stock could skyrocket come next season.
“Maason Smith Continues To Heat Up”
With recent offers from Alabama & Oklahoma, the rising 2021 prospect followed it up by earning MVP honors at the Nike Opening camp. Smith had a good showing at the Under Armour camp as well, continuing to show great mobility & winning majority of his matchups in 1 on 1s.
Smith will be visiting Texas & Georgia over the next few weeks. Both coaching staffs have been monitoring Smith closely since the fall & now during camp season. Area recruiter for Georgia Cortez Hankton has done an excellent job getting a lot of talented prospects from Louisiana on campus, and expect the Bulldog coaching staff to extend an offer to Smith once he touches down in Athens. The Texas coaching staff are also looking forward to hosting the 6-5 300 pound defensive tackle soon, and head coach Todd Herman is expected to extend an offer to Smith as well.
The route that Smith is going at this point it seems almost evident that he will end up being a Under Armour or Army All-American when it’s all said & done. Expect Smith to be dominant come this fall & end up being ranked the number one defensive tackle in the state for the 2021 class by next year.
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It was clear the Thibodaux Tigers were on a mission coming into playoffs to prove that they could bring home the first state title in school history.
Walker got off to a hot start opening the game on a 8-2 run with 5:01 left in the first quarter, but Thibodaux head coach Tony Clark would call a timeout & regroup. The Wildcats lead after the first quarter 16-10. Sophomore Brian Thomas was the story of the first half scoring 20 of his team’s 37 points that included four three pointers & two electrifying dunks that sent the Wildcat fans into a frenzy. The Wildcats led 37-30 at the half.
The Tigers wouldn’t get their first lead of the game until 4:02 left in the fourth quarter when senior Rashod Robinson nailed a corner three with a Wildcat defender draped all over him. The Tigers lead 53-52 & wouldn’t trail again this game. With just under a minute the Tigers were up three until sophomore Rashad Winslow would convert a put back layup to give his team a 65-60 lead. The Tigers would knocked down their free throws the rest of the way & win the game 70-60.
The stellar play on both ends of the floor from senior point guard Kobi Johnson uplifted the Tigers, especially in the second half. Johnson took on the challenge of guarding arguably the best player in the state Jalen Cook, which was a huge task after Cook scored 37 points in the semifinal matchup against Ouachita. Cook finished with 19 points, but Johnson’s pesky on ball defense led to some key turnovers that ended up playing a huge factor in the game. Johnson was named MVP after finishing the game with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, & 3 steals. Rashod Robinson finished with 15 points, Marvin Robertson 13 points, & Rashad Winslow 11 points to go with 14 rebounds.
Sophomore Brian Thomas led all scorers with 29 points for the Wildcats & Jalen Cook poured in 19 points.
Coming into this season many believed that this would be a rebuilding year for Madison Prep after losing division one signees Josh Leblanc(Georgetown) & Kobe Julien(ULL). The Chargers took that as a challenge by finishing the season 33-7 & a 3A state title.
Wossman was searching for their first state title since 2008, meanwhile Madison Prep had their sights set on winning their fifth straight state championship. The Wildcats would give the Chargers all they could handle, but Wossman would fall to Madison Prep 61-54.
Madison Prep came into the game with their star player Jahein Spencer(UAB signee) hobbled by a turf toe injury. Spencer only scored 4 points in the game, but just having his presence on the floor gave the Chargers a sense of confidence that they could still get the job done. Juniors Elijah Tate & Jason Perry were big time leading the Chargers with 17 points a piece. Tate scored 8 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter that ultimately sealed the deal for the Chargers. Senior Marcus Guss was the only other Charger in double figures with 10 points.
Junior Nick Traylor led Wossman with 21 points to go with 16 rebounds & sophomore Devonte Austin added 11 points with 5 assists.
“Thibodaux Set To Make History”
On Thursday, #1 seed Thibodaux Tigers took care of business versus #4 seed Bonnabel 63-48 & advanced to the state finals for the first time since 2005.
The Tigers got off to a good start once again up 35-20 with 2:03 left in the second quarter, but Bonnabel would cut it to 35-24 going into the half. The Tigers defense was clearly the difference creating 11 turnovers in the first half. The Tigers would hit a cold spell in the third only scoring five points. The Bruins took advantage & got their first lead of the game after a basket from Tyran Williams to go up 39-38 with just over a minute left in the third.
The fourth quarter the Tigers would hit another gear going on a 23-9 run to end the game putting this team one step closer to their goal. Junior J’Mari Carter was terrific leading all scorers with 16 points, while seniors Kobi Johnson & Rashod Robinson finished with 13 points a piece for the Tigers. Bonnabel seniors Donte Mitchell & Rodney Munson both finished with 14 points a piece respectively.
The Tigers will face off against last year’s state champion Walker Wildcats Saturday at 6 pm. If Thibodaux can pull off the win Saturday, it will give the school it’s first state championship in the school’s history.
This was one of the biggest crowds the Tri-Parish has seen before in recent memory, & the Thibodaux Tigers did not disappoint on Friday night.
The Tigers came out with guns blazing getting off to a 6-0 lead to start the game, but Natchitoches-Central guard Devonte Snow would convert an acrobatic layup to kill the Tiger’s run. The Tigers led 18-15 after the first quarter.
After trading baskets much of the first quarter, the Tigers would go up 24-17 after a big three pointer from Marvin Robertson with just under six minutes left in the second. The Tigers would go into halftime up 30-27.
The Chiefs would finally get their first lead of the game after Devonte Snow’s put back layup to put his team ahead 35-34 with 5:50 left in the third. The Tigers would then go on a 14-10 run to close out the third to go up 48-45.
The Tigers had a few costly turnovers down stretch, but their senior led backcourt definitely showed in the fourth quarter that they could handle Natchitoches-Central’s full court pressure. The Chiefs trailed 65-62 with just under a minute in regulation, but the Tigers would hold them off to win 67-62 & advance to the top 28 in Lake Charles.
Senior Marvin Robertson led all scorers with 22 points, Rashod Robinson 15 points, Rashaud Winslow 12 points, & Kobi Johnson added 10 points for Thibodaux. Devonte Snow led Natchitoches-Central with 19 points.
Thibodaux will face off against #4 Bonnabel in the semifinals Thursday at 3:00 pm. The Tigers defeated Bonnabel earlier this season in the St. Augustine tournament.
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