The IMO Memorial Day Classic provided an opportunity to demonstrate talent, ability and potential on a National platform against some of the best players in the country. There are players in this event, like Mikey Williams, that people who don’t follow basketball particularly close are familiar with as well as players, like Sam Murray & Reed Sheppard, who have caught the eye and attention of college coaches but are underrated in the player rankings and relatively unknown to those who don’t closely watch/evaluate high school/grassroots basketball. The classic was full of high-level basketball and competitive matchups from start to finish. It’s impossible to spotlight each of the players individually, so I strongly suggest you follow SUVtv for replays & highlights because there was no shortage of future collegiate players throughout the rosters of each team.
Photo Cred: TXHS
Day 1 Scores & Standouts:
Game 1: Dallas Seawolves (68) vs. Jarrett Culver Elite (64)
Abdul Beyah Jr.- 17 points & 3 assists (Dallas Seawolves)
Trey Edmonds- 15 points & 7 rebounds (Dallas Seawolves)
Jai Smith- 9 points & 11 rebounds (Dallas Seawolves)
KJ Odour- 8 points, 9 rebounds, 7 blocks, 3 assists (Dallas Seawolves)
Justin Meneika- 22 points & 4 rebounds
Jaran Young- 15 points & 6 rebounds
Nicholas Shogbonyo- 22 points & 4 rebounds
The Dallas Seawolves came out and represented in memory of their Head Coach Lawrence “Coach Low” Johns who passed away on May 20th at the age of 54. He was a mainstay in the grassroots basketball community for decades and has impacted/inspired many players and coaches along his journey!
The Seawolves were thrown off by an early zone look from Jarrett Culver Elite that started them off with a 5-point lead early in the game. Once the Seawolves called a time-out and made the necessary adjustments, this became a highly competitive game with 7 ties, 7 lead changes and overtime excitement. The highly recruited Jai Smith had his imprint all over this game as did Abdul Beyah with his scoring ability, but the player who stood out the most to me was KJ Odour. He filled every column on the stat sheet and was an integral component to the Seawolves picking up the victory. KJ recently graduated from Grand River Academy (OH) where he was the Valedictorian. He has been flying way under the radar but is definitely a Division 1 talent who can make an immediate impact at the next level.
Game 2: New Orleans Elite 62 vs. Rashard Lewis Elite (RL9) 49
Terrel Dixon- 20 points & 4 rebounds (New Orleans Elite)
Sam Murray- 16 points, 6 rebounds & 5 assists (New Orleans Elite)
Brody Robinson- 9 points, 2 assists & 2 rebounds (Rashard Lewis Elite)
Rashard Lewis Elite and New Orleans Elite had to follow an overtime finish from game 1 and not only did they keep the moments and intensity rolling; they took it to another level. Coming into this game, I was excited to see Sam Murray play live. I’ve heard a lot about him and have watched film as his name has climbed recruiting boards but yet to climb ranking lists. He came out and did not disappoint! His team got off to a slow start as they tried to figure out and understand the full court zone that RL9 started off in, but once Sam got going and his team understood the way to properly attack the zone there was no looking back. The entire New Orleans Elite team is long and athletic (They have 7 players listed at 6’7 or taller) and that size was just too much for RL9. Sam Murray is definitely one of the best players in the country and I look to see his name rise in the rankings soon. Brody Robinson stood out for RL9 with his ability to control the tempo, put his team in positive situations and his overall impact on the floor. I really like his mastery of the PG position and think the Rashard Lewis Elite team is much better when he is on the court.
Game 3: Midwest Basketball Club 75 vs. We All Can Go 72
Reed Sheppard- 22 points (4-6 from 3), 8 assists, 5 steals & 4 rebounds (MBC)
Mitchell Rylee- 22 points & 4 rebounds (MBC)
Chris Livingston- 33 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists (We All Can Go)
Adem Bona- 16 points (6-7 FG), 9 rebounds, 6+ blocks (We All Can Go)
Mikey Williams- 15 points, 3 assists & 3 rebounds (We All Can Go)
If you let the rankings, crowd following, or media hype tell the narrative; this game wasn’t supposed to be close! WACG boasts a roster that features 7 players with High Major recruitment, multiple Top 100 rankings and a fan following that made it difficult to even see the budding stars warm-up pregame. None of that phased Midwest Basketball Club. They knew Instagram followers wouldn’t translate to points on the board and writers/evaluators couldn’t play the game for them. At the end of the day, Midwest Basketball Club played better basketball for 32 minutes which allowed them to be victorious. They won the 3pt %, FT %, Assists, Offensive Rebounds, Turnover & Steals battles while utilizing unselfish/team first play and a monster effort from Reed Sheppard to catapult them to victory. A few days ago, Gabe Cupps posted on twitter “We may not look like much… but we can play a little bit.” And this team showed their ability to play in this marquee matchup! I was impressed by Chris Livingston’s ability to do whatever he wanted to do on the floor. Nobody was able to stop him from getting to his spots. Adem Bona may be the best rim protector in the country as he turned away at least 6 shots at the rim and also impacted Midwest Basketball Club’s willingness to drive the lane. This was a great matchup and I’m excited to watch both of these teams continue to play.
Game 4: Southern Assault 78 vs. Power 5 69
Keyonte George- 26 points (4-6 from 3), 6 rebounds & 5 assists (Southern Assault)
Yohan Traore- 13 points & 7 rebounds (Southern Assault)
Quion Williams- 10 points & 10 rebounds (Southern Assault)
Najashi Tolefree- 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals (Power 5)
Hamahrie Bowers- 22 points & 8 rebound (Power 5)
Tayshawn Bridges- 16 points & 4 steals (Power 5)
Keyonte George was impressive from start to finish. He played with a level of comfort that let you know that he’s well aware of his gifts/abilities and relishes the opportunity to play in these environments. He set the tone for his guys and provided a calming effect when Power 5 went on one of their many runs as they attempted to claw back into the game. He is the definition of a “three-level scorer” and is a flat-out WINNER. There’s no question that he’s one of the best players in the country in the Class of 2022. Tayshawn Bridges also showed flashes of greatness. As a 2024 player competing against a team loaded with talent, he was able to hold his own. He gets to the basket quick and has an impressive skillset that is beyond his age. As he continues to improve his shot selection and ability to finish in traffic, he has a chance to be special. I am really looking forward to watching his growth and maturation over these next few years.
Day 2 Scores & Standouts:
Game 5: Midwest Basketball Club 75 vs. New Orleans Elite 50
Rylee Mitchell- 19 points (MBC)
Mike Sharavjamts- 15 points (4-6 from 3) & 5 assists (MBC)
Reed Sheppard- 9 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists & 4 steals (MBC)
Terrel Dixon- 12 points (NOE)
Sam Murray- 8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists & 2 steals (NOE)
Midwest Basketball Club played a near perfect game vs. We All Can Go on day one in which they had 20 assists on 28 made shots and played together as a team exceptionally well. I wondered if there would be hangover from that win, and not only was that not the case; they played even better. They had 25 assists on 31 made shots, shot 55% from the field (40% from three) and forced 16 turnovers in a game vs. New Orleans Elite where they never trailed once and at one point led by 29 points. Midwest Basketball Club dominated from the opening tip to the final whistle and showed everyone who called their victory over WACG an upset that they are truly a very good team.
Game 6: Power 5 66 vs. Dallas Seawolves 61
Hamahrie Bowers- 15 points, 5 rebounds & 4 assists (Power 5)
Sage Tolentino- 15 points & 8 rebounds (Power 5)
Isaiah Jones- 11 points, 8 rebounds & 2 assists (Power 5)
Christian Ferguson- 30 points (10-13 from 3) (DS)
KJ Odour- 8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks & 2 steals
The Dallas Seawolves came into this game with an obvious size advantage but what can’t be measured is heart. The Seawolves have 1 player listed at 6’9 and two listed at 6’10 while Power 5’s only player above 6’6 is the 7-foot Sage Tolentino who had 2 points and 3 rebounds in game 1. He would need to step up in a major way in order to defeat the Seawolves, and he did! The energy and hustle of Hamahrie Bowers coupled with a big-time performance by Sage Tolentino led Power 5 to a bounce back victory after their loss to Southern Assault in their first game. The Seawolves were led by the sharp shooting of Christian Ferguson who kept them in the game with 10 three-pointers.
Game 7: Rashard Lewis Elite (RL9) 67 vs. We All Can Go 60
Brody Robinson- 24 points, 4 rebounds & 3 steals (RL9)
Kendall Cross- 13 points (RL9)
Jesaiah McWright- 11 points (RL9)
Chris Livingston- 25 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists & 2 steals (WACG)
Adem Bona- 10 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks & 2 steals (WACG)
Zocko Littleton- 11 points (WACG)
I was expecting this to be a bounce-back game for We All Can Go after experiencing a close loss to Midwest Basketball Club the night before. WACG came out early and all signs were pointing towards them showcasing just how good they really are to the Houston crowd as they entered the half up 2. But then, 20 seconds into the second half, Mikey Williams went down with an ankle injury and WACG struggled to replace his scoring and also struggled to find a guard to neutralize RL9’s Brody Robinson. WACG seemed out of sorts without the presence of a point guard on the floor and although Chris Livingston attempted to do it all, he couldn’t shoulder the entire load as WACG was taken down for the second time this weekend by a squad not as talented on paper.
Game 8: Southern Assault 78 vs. Jarrett Culver Elite 66
Keyonte George- 15 points, 6 rebounds & 5 assists (SA)
Quion Williams- 14 points, 7 rebounds & 5 assists (SA)
Yohan Traore- 12 points & 6 rebounds (SA)
Justin McNelkan- 27 points & 5 rebounds (JCE)
Roderick Yarbrough- 11 points & 3 assists (JCE)
Southern Assault just had far too much fire power for Jarrett Culver Elite. The only thing that kept the game close was the shooting of Justin McNelkan, who scored 27 points on (7-12 from 3). Southern Assault out rebounded Jarrett Culver Elite 39-27, they out assisted them 25-14 and had 4 players in double digits while Jarrett Culver Elite relied solely on the scoring prowess of Justin McNelkan. It’s incredibly tough to beat this Southern Assault team, especially when Keyonte George is playing at a high level. Jarrett Culver Elite found out just how good this team is first-hand.
Day 3 Scores & Standouts:
Game 9: Jarrett Culver Elite 69 vs. New Orleans Elite 68
Justin McNelkan- 21 points, 3 rebounds & 2 assists (Jarrett Culver Elite)
Jaytwone Stewart- 13 points & 9 rebounds (5 offensive) (Jarrett Culver Elite)
Sam Murray- 16 points, 11 rebounds & 4 assists (New Orleans Elite)
Alex Hammond- 19 points (New Orleans Elite)
Trace Joseph- 15 points & 12 rebounds (7 offensive) (New Orleans Elite)
The first game of Day 3 had little to no implications for the teams on the floor. Neither of them had an opportunity to play in the tournament beyond this game, and there’s a month-long hiatus from grassroots basketball during June. I was interested to see how the teams would compete in a mainly inconsequential contest. They both fought, for the entire game. Sam Murray was dominant and tried to will his team to victory, but they weren’t able to slow down the sharp shooting Justin McNelkan and his Jarrett Culver Elite squad. New Orleans Elite has some bright spots that should serve them well in the July live period and this game showed they have the fight and resiliency to be successful!
Game 10: Rashard Lewis Elite (RL9) 78 vs. Power 5 70
Jesaiah McWright- 19 points, 4 steals (RL9)
Mikey Hawkins- 13 points, 4 assists, 2 steals (RL9)
Hamahrie Bowers- 25 points & 12 rebounds (8 offensive) (Power 5)
Tayshawn Bridges- 21 points, 5 rebounds & 2 assists (Power 5)
Win and Advance was the only thing on the minds of RL9 coming into this game. They rebounded from a loss to New Orleans Elite in their first game with a victory over We All Can Go and knew that a win in this game would solidify an opportunity to compete for the championship. Immediately after they game mentioned the need to represent for Houston in the tournament and their desire to face Southern Assault in the finals. They faced an explosive Power 5 team led by Hamahri Bowers & Tayshawn Bridges; and were able to neutralize their offensive firepower. RL9 trailed Power 5 at the half 34-31. At the half they had 11 turnovers and 6 steals, in the second half they turned their defensive pressure up and finished the game limiting their turnover (7 in the second half) and forced 11 turnovers. Their defensive tenacity and full court pressure led them to the Championship.
Game 11: Southern Assault 74 vs. Midwest Basketball Club 62
Keyonte George- 21 points, 5 rebounds & 3 assists (SA)
Yohan Traore- 19 points (SA)
Quion Williams- 15 points, 15 rebounds (10 offensive) & 5 assists (SA)
Reed Sheppard- 18 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds & 3 assists (MBC)
Rich Rolf- 11 points (3-5 from 3) & 5 rebounds (MBC)
The semi-final matchup between two extremely well-rounded teams was greatly anticipated. Midwest Basketball Club plays exceptionally well together, shares the ball and competes from the opening tip to the final whistle. In the two games leading up to the semi-finals they had 20 & 25 assists respectively. In their contest with New Orleans Elite, they doubled their opponents assist total. Their ability to share the ball and play together as a team was going to be needed to defeat a surging Southern Assault team, but it wasn’t there.
They finished the game with 13 assists (two less than Southern Assault) and they also trailed in rebounding (43-21). Reed Sheppard played a phenomenal game for Midwest Basketball Club, but it wasn’t enough to combat the three-headed monster of Keyonte George, Yohan Traore & Quion Williams. Southern Assault punched their ticket to the championship game and a rematch vs. Rashard Lewis Elite who they recently defeated in an overtime game in Dallas.
Game 12: We All Can Go 76 vs. Dallas Seawolves 61
Chris Livingston- 23 points, 8 rebounds & 5 assists (WACG)
Zocko Littleton- 24 points & 5 assists (WACG)
Adem Bona- 12 points, 7 rebounds & 4 blocks (WACG)
Devin Ree- 12 points, 5 rebounds & 3 assista (WACG)
AbdulNoor Beya Jr- 19 points, 5 rebounds & 3 assists (DSW)
Jai Smith- 9 points & 6 rebounds (DSW)
All eyes were fixated on We All Can Go. The grassroots equivalent of a “super team” has struggled to find their way as of late, and we all wanted to see how they would respond to the adversity. Throughout the weekend, Chris Livingston had carried the team on his shoulders and one of our keys for them to pick up a victory was the immergence of a second scorer. Zocko Littleton provided the much-needed offensive support for Livingston and it was a world of difference in the end result. Devin Ree stepped up as well and with those three scoring efficiently, they made easy work of the Dallas Seawolves. This “We All Can Go” Team is loaded with talent and future Division 1 stars, when they are firing on all cylinders, they are going to be hard to beat and possibly this game was just what they needed to get closer to their fullest potential.
Game 13: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! Rashard Lewis Elite (RL9) 55 vs. Southern Assault 53
Jesaiah McWright- 16 points, 3 rebounds & 3 steals (RL9)
Braylon Haynes- 14 points, 5 rebounds & 3 blocks (RL9)
Brody Robinson- 8 points & 3 assists (RL9)
Keyonte George- 18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists & 2 steals (SA)
Yohan Traore- 12 points & 5 rebounds (SA)
Quion Williams- 10 points, 9 rebounts, 4 assists & 3 steals (SA)
There were multiple storylines for this game. The IMO Memorial Day Classic Championship was a battle for the state of Texas (RL9-Houston vs. Southern Assault-Dallas), a battle of the shoe brands (RL9-UAA vs. Southern Assault-Adidas), and revenge (Southern Assault had recently defeated RL9 in an overtime victory in Dallas). All these underlying narratives made this game, must watch TV and it didn’t disappoint one bit! The game consisted of 14 lead changes and 11 ties and went down to the very last shot. If the ending of the first half told us anything, expectations would be that Southern Assault would pull out the victory. (With just seconds left in the first half, Keyonte George dribbled up court and pulled up for a half court 3 pointer that barely touched the net as it tied the game 29.) However, the ending of the game didn’t have the same Keyonte George magic as he came up short on a three pointer at the buzzer.
Braylon Haynes played phenomenal on both ends of the floor and had his best game of the tournament in providing a relentless defensive effort on Keyonte George. Jesaiah McWright provided big time highlight plays and offensive production to propel his team to the championship victory. You could feel that this game was different for the RL9 squad, it was the matchup they wanted. After the victory, in the post-game interview; Braylon Hayes said, “When you step between those lines all the stars go out the window!” in reference to being seemingly “undermanned” in the competition but still pulling out the victory. This was a fitting and memorable ending for the IMO Memorial Day Classic, we started the event with overtime game and ended with the same.