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Posted On: 10/28/18 6:19 PM
In the spring of 2018, Keithville Elementary Middle School won the city championship in Caddo Parish. They had probably the best starting five 8th graders I had seen in years. Fast forward one season later and that starting five are now on high school campuses. If they play anything like they did their last year in middle school while continuing to get stronger, these impact freshman will show that they are five of the best in the state.
Tahj Graham / 5’9″ / Off guard & Wing / Southwood High School
Graham is a hard-nosed defender. He plays with the primary purpose of taking out the other team’s best offensive option. More times than not he is successful. Graham has two assets that make him a great defender. He is willing to play defense in open space and he has really quick feet. Guys who are willing to be on an island with the offensive player are not afraid to fail. Graham has that mindset. Coupling that with his quick feet, Graham can defend almost any guard. This fearless freshman may not get major minutes past the JV level this year but he will be a major defensive piece for Cowboys going forward.
Desmond Washington / 6’3″ / Post / Huntington High School
Washington was the post presence on the city championship team and has taken his talents to a program who believes in using their post players. Desmond is a rebounding machine and knows how to track the ball off the glass better than others. He tips the ball to secure it for himself or tips it out to an area where his teammates can corral the ball. Washington also has a soft touch. He can make the short jumper in the lane and make free throws. His activity and touch make him a threat at all times. I would not be surprised to see Washington dress varsity at some point this season. He is definitely one of the players to watch for Huntington.
Donavan Seamster / 6’0″ / Off guard & Wing / Woodlawn High School (Shreveport)
I do not think there is a incoming freshman guard with better range than Donavan Seamster. There were stories of him being able to shot just inside of half court but I had to see it to believe it. During the course of the season, those stories were proven true. This lefty can fill it up in spurts from deep. Along with his jumper, he is learning how to attack the basket so that he can add that trait to his arsenal. Once he develops that part of his game, his ceiling will be limitless. Seamster dressed with the varsity in some of the June team camps. I can see him being a spot up shooter gaining some varsity minutes going forward. If he continues improving his game during the season, he may move into the regular rotation.
Mar’quarius Johnson / 5’9″ / Point guard / Southwood High School
This guard burst onto the scene during his last year of middle school and has caught momentum going into high school. He is a point guard who can score and find players in scoring position. Most of all, he can run the coach’s offense. If his team needs to get into the right play, he can get them in it. Johnson also has an Allen Iverson-type fearlessness on both ends of the floor. He will take the big shot, drive the lane and take the hit, and play tight perimeter defense. Not most guards coming from middle school are willing to do that. With weight training and development, Johnson can develop into a special player. I will not be surprised if he dresses varsity by the middle of the season.
Labree Williams / 6’3″ / Wing / Calvary Baptist Academy
The best player on that city championship team was Labree Williams. To be honest, Williams might be the best freshman in the state. He has a complete skill set that only a small percentage of freshman have. He can rebound the ball, shoot the three, and handle the rock like a guard. On defense, he can guard three positions and understands help side responsibilities. Williams has a high basketball IQ and plays the game with passion. Labree is the epitome of the players in this positionless era. Simply put, he plays the game to its highest level. If he were at a smaller school, he would be playing varsity already. That is how good he is. Labree Williams is one of the must see freshman in this state…..period.
These five players to watch will be some of the better players in their class. It would not surprise me if all of these players are all district or all state players before they finish high school. Northwest Louisiana will get a treat in watching these five players this year and for years to come.