Gilbert to UCONN adds flavor to Lighthouse

@brandonspeck

It’s still some five months away, but never too early to start thinking about the 2015 Lighthouse Classic.

For the third straight year at Corinth High, the full lineup is yet to be announced, but I can tell you there are already two big-time Division I commits.

Miller Grove (Ga.) returns for a second time, as does its 2016 PG Alterique Gilbert. This morning, Gilbert (6-foot-1) committed to UCONN, picking the Huskies over Louisville, Illinois, Syracuse and Texas.

Gilbert is ESPN’s No. 5 point guard, a 5-star and No. 23 player on the ESPN 100. He is the No. 2 player in Georgia.

Also committed to play is Madison Academy (Ala.) and 5-star SG Josh Langford. Langford committed to Michigan State on June 22. He is No. 13 on the ESPN 100, the top player in Alabama

Posted in Basketball, Recruiting

Ole Miss commit Patterson relishing post-recruiting role

@brandonspeck

OXFORD – Talked with Shea Patterson, the No. 2 pro style QB in the country and an Ole Miss-commit, Wednesday morning about his post-recruiting role.

Click here for the story in today’s Daily Journal and here is some video.

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Posted in Football, Recruiting

Don’t assume Starkville OLB Gay automatically winds up at MSU

@brandonspeck

OXFORD – Beside Willie Gay’s name on his 247Sports profile, it gives a, “100%” prediction he is a future Mississippi State Bulldog.

It would be an easy transition for the 2017 Starkville outside linebacker. Like all Starkville players, the assumption is he’ll stay in town and go to Mississippi State. Not so fast.

“We hear that a lot,” Gay said from Wednesday’s Southern Elite Combine at Lafayette High School, “just like on my 247, but you know, I’m not sure where I want to go right now. I’m just letting it all ride out on its own.”

Gay is one of the state’s fastest rising players, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder who also holds an Ole Miss offer.

Moving four miles to Mississippi State or a few more miles to Oxford got even more unpredictable last week when Alabama offered. The Crimson Tide won’t be the last. Gay is ranked a four-star prospect by 247, the No. 8 OLB in the country and No. 107 player overall. He ran 4.59 40 Wednesday, the seventh-fastest in the 184-man field.

Read the rest of the story here and watch a video interview with Gay below.

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Posted in Football, Recruiting

Starkville coach on Baldwyn’s McKay, Hayes

Baldwyn's Conner McKay dribbles around a Starkville defender during their game at ICC Thursday. (Lee Adams/ICC)

Baldwyn’s Conner McKay dribbles around a Starkville defender during their game at ICC Thursday. (Lee Adams/ICC)

Baldwyn's Felix Hayes drives between two Starkville defenders in their game at ICC on Thursday. (Lee Adams/ICC)

Baldwyn’s Felix Hayes drives between two Starkville defenders in their game at ICC on Thursday. (Lee Adams/ICC)

@brandonspeck

Baldwyn point guard Conner McKay is unarguably one of the state’s top players, but for whatever reason, is waiting on his first college offer.

The 6-foot senior can shoot it from all over the floor, including behind the arc. He’s a 90-plus percent free-throw shooter, draws contact in the lane and has maybe the best handles in the state.

McKay scored 14 points per game on a Bearcats team last season that had four average in double figures. He made 79 3s, seventh in Mississippi.

“He’s special. He’s special,” Starkville coach Greg Carter said. “He can really shoot it. He’s an extraordinary shooter. He’s a special shooter.”

Carter is as surprised as anyone McKay doesn’t have an offer.

“None?” Carter said. “That is surprising. The fact that he can shoot it as well as he can, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people start recruiting him.”

Every junior college in the country would be thrilled to get him, but four-years are sure to eventually wise up. Baldwyn is ramping up the schedule this season. The more exposure McKay gets, the happier some college is gonna be to get him.

He’ll have another star teammate this season, as junior forward Felix Hayes is starting to draw his own attention. In summer league against Starkville, Hayes did it all, drove, drew fouls, hit mid-range, rebounded on both ends and asserted his physical 6-foot-2, 194-pound frame. He is playing football this season, as well.

Hayes averaged 12.3 points per game and made 43 3s.

“Yeah, he’s good. He can shoot it now,” Carter said. “He can shoot it, plays off the dribble, nice, strong body. I like him.”

Posted in Basketball, Recruiting

Saturday’s Cotton States Baseball Recaps

@brandonspeck

June 27

Golden Triangle Jets 2, Tupelo Thunder 1

The Jets scored in the bottom of the eight on Jon Marc Girardeau’s RBI single in the bottom of the eight.

Tippah Tribe 9, Hillcountry Generals 2

Ethan Gill had five hits and three RBI for the Tribe.

Posted in Baseball

Lighthouse Classic has first NBA draft pick

@brandonspeck

The NBA has its first Lighthouse Classic alum, Kentucky freshman Devin Booker of Moss Point, Miss. lottery-picked No. 13 by Phoenix. Booker played in the inaugural event two years ago at Corinth High School.

Booker, the top senior in Mississippi, scored 17 points in a 62-56 loss to Corinth. He had another 23 points in a Saturday loss against Southwind, Tenn.

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Posted in Basketball

Ashley, Knight talk Amory Ironman

@brandonspeck

AMORY – For the second year, Amory held its Panther Ironman Shootout. Here is my story from the steaming hot day, as well as some video with Amory coach Ben Ashley and Saltillo junior QB Clayton Knight.

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Posted in Football

Bears LB McPhee enjoys coming back to Tupelo

@brandonspeck

Pernell McPhee is from Pahokee, Fla. He played football in Fulton at Itawamba CC and Mississippi State before being drafted by Baltimore in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Part of his heart, is in Tupelo, where Saturday for the third straight year he was at Tupelo Christian for the Pernell McPhee and Friends Football Camp.

Here is my story from Sunday on his potential impact with the Bears, as well as a video talk with him about the camp.

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Posted in Football

SEC offer next for Corinth’s Gwyn?

@brandonspeck

More than one person thinks Corinth 2016 QB Antares Gwyn will get an offer from Mississippi State and/or Ole Miss. Wrote about that in Sunday’s Journal.

Here is the story and some video.

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Posted in Basketball, Football, Recruiting

Houston two-sport star McQuary turning heads

@brandonspeck

Houston football safety and baseball shortstop Denver McQuary is one of the state’s fastest rising names. The senior has 25 career interceptions, two away from tying Steve McNair’s record.

He was just named to the Journal’s All-Area baseball team after helping Houston to the Class 4A state title series. He hit .405 with 14 RBI, 14 doubles and stole a state-best 39 of 40 bases. He scored a 4A-tops 43 runs.

“He’s that good at football, too?” one opposing baseball coach said.

Here is my story from talking with McQuary at the Tupelo Combine, as well as some video.

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Posted in Football, Recruiting, Sports

SPECK: Don’t complain about officials, videotape them

@brandonspeck

HOUSTON – Opinions are like pillows. We all have at least one. Some are just the way we prefer. Some make your neck hurt.

Opinions on high school sports officiating can be a much worse pain in your neck.

This is not an officiating-bashing column. It’s a hard job and frankly, 99.9 percent of you are usually wrong when you’re sitting in your Walmart foldup doing all that fussing.

But there are times you’re right.

April 25, 2015. Hickory Flat at Greenville St. Joe, a deciding Class 1A playoff Game 3. It’s tied in the bottom of the eighth inning and Hickory Flat coach Andy Dillard goes to the mound to talk with ace Phillip Tatum.

Tatum, the starter, walked the previous batter and Dillard went to discuss bunt strategy on the following nine-hitter. That’s when he was told by the home-plate umpire he’d have to pull Tatum, because he made an illegal mound visit.

Problem is, you get an extra visit per extra inning and that was Dillard’s visit. So the umpire was just wrong, harmfully wrong. Dillard pulled Tatum and St. Joe went on to reach on another controversial bunt and won with a two-out RBI. Now that may have been the result either way, but we don’t know. All we know is Dillard was illegally forced to remove his ace.

Hickory Flat got in touch with the Mississippi High School Activities Association, but without video evidence, as much as I’d like to blame them, there was nothing they could do.

Hickory Flat principal Barry Goolsby wanted to make it very clear he placed zero blame on the MHSAA or St. Joe.

His advice, though, is timeless.

“You need to videotape baseball games. I would advise all baseball coaches to videotape their games,” Goolsby said.

HOUSTON ALMOST DID IN

On a playoff Tuesday at Houston, a called out at first didn’t, but could have easily cost the Hilltoppers a game at the most inopportune time.

Trailing 1-0 in the opener of the North 4A finals, – a trip to the state championship series on the line – Houston looked to have loaded the bases with no outs. But Zack Poteete was called out on a bang-bang play at first.

There is no replay, obviously, but in this case, it was pretty dang obvious without replay he was safe. Houston knew it. Lafayette know it. Everyone knew it, except the first-base umpire.

Now what he saw was an out and maybe he was 100 percent convinced it was so. Scary thing to put big dreams in the hands of human beings.

It means a lot to make a state championship game. Even pros hold these days as high as any in their pro careers. To risk having such dreams squashed by humanity is terrifying.

Houston rallied and won, but that call, for nearly the next three innings, was looming. Officials make mistakes and unfortunately they squash championship dreams.

Though the MHSAA is not to blame for poor officiating, making public repercussion of bad officiating is a good place to start cleaning up its reputation for things it is blamed for. And as Goolsby’s advice holes, videotaped games are the only way to repercuss.

I’ve seen maybe three incidents ever in which I was convinced a team was getting the shaft. It happened to Aberdeen football twice on my watch, once at Mooreville and once at Water Valley. It happened to Baldwyn basketball in the most blatant display of incompetence I’ve ever seen in a state championship game.

Those are unfortunate, but rare. Officials are usually right and fans are usually wrong. Unfortunately when that is reversed, well, it’s just unfortunate. Even when it’s less human error than human brain lapse.

The only way to place the blame, legit or false fan fury, is via videotape.

Posted in Sports

Lafayette OL Johnson talks Ole Miss future

@brandonspeck

OXFORD – Lafayette’s Eli Johnson had plenty of opportunities to decommit from Ole Miss. Nebraska and Duke pursued hard. But the OL is “as solid as can be” and plans to enroll in December.

Here is my story from the #DJournal, as well as some video with Johnson from Ole Miss camp.

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Posted in Football

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