Posted On: 11/28/18 1:16 PM

McMain and Kipp-Booker T. Washington are home to what may be the state’s top two 2022 prospects in Alex Hammond and Kyran Ratliff. Both players showed glimpses of what makes them Division I prospects in the season opener for both squads on Nov. 13.

It was a close game the entire night with neither team leading by more than four points for most of the game. The matchup came down to the final seconds, and a game-winning steal and layup by 2019 G Jorden Thomas gave McMain a 60-58 win. Check out the highlights or the full game in the videos below.

McMain 2022 G Alex Hammond on Track to be Top-Tier Prospect

It was only the first game of the season but McMain 2022 G Alex Hammond made his case for the state’s top prospect in his class. The 6-foot-2 freshman was a top producer for the Mustangs last year as an 8th-grader and that experience paid off with a 22-point performance in a close win for McMain that came down to the last seconds.

Hammond was the catalyst in the victory scoring 11 points in the third quarter while showcasing his ability on both ends of the floor. He used quick hesitations and crossovers that allowed him to get to the spots he wanted on the floor, and finished from all three levels at various points throughout the game. Hammond also showed he was capable of making an impact defensively with five steals, most of which came from jumping passing lanes where his quickness and anticipation pays off.

His biggest area of improvement will be in his decision-making and feel for when to assert his will on a game. Hammond also missed a few free throws down the stretch that could have put the game away, which wasn’t necessarily a surprise for such a young player.

Much like his brother, Gregory Hammond, who’s currently a senior at Wright that just signed with Rhode Island, Alex is a shy kid who doesn’t really seek the spotlight. His skills are undeniable, though, and he has the potential to be just as good — if not, better — than this older sibling.

KIPP-BTW 2022 F Kyran Ratliff is the Real Deal

I was familiar with Ratliff and Hammond’s skill sets as both of them played with Elfrid Payton Elite during the summer, but Ratliff was extremely impressive. He’s already 6-foot-7 with a long wingspan and is a true big man that’s more than willing to rebound and protect the paint.

He finished with team-highs in points (18), rebounds (11), blocks (3) and steals (3) and even had a pair of assists making the right pass out of double-teams. Ratliff ran the floor well, showed good touch around the rim and had three dunks in the first quarter to help set the tone for his team.

His slight frame could be a challenge for him against thicker post players down the line, but he’ll have the advantage in terms of agility more times than not. He also didn’t attempt many shots outside the paint and as a result, Ratliff’s jump shot is still a question mark but he has the potential to be a Brison Gresham-type player, a McDonogh 35 alum whose currently at the University of Houston.

McMain 2021 Taj Gilyot Shows Big-Time Potential

I had heard of Gilyot reeling in a Tulane offer along with Hammond a Ratliff over the summer but New Orleans Elite was’t as active i the area as usual, so I hadn’t seen Gilyot in action yet. He didn’t do a whole lot of scoring finishing with six points including a 3-pointer, but he was the game’s leading assist man with six dimes.

He shows an innate feel for the game as a lead ball handler and passer who can both distribute and score when needed. Gilyot has good size at about 6-foot-3 and he uses his body well to shield the ball from defenders drawing fouls when they try to reach.

McMain 2019 G/F Jorden Thomas Key to Mustangs’ Success

While Hammond and Gilyot are two of the metro area’s brightest young prospects, Thomas may be the team’s most important player. Coach Steven Kelly has been particularly hard on Thomas over the years and it appears to be paying off for McMain’s most productive senior.

Thomas had the game-winning steal and layup in the final seconds to give McMain the win and finished with 14 points including 2 3-pointers with 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists and a block. He rarely over-extends himself and gets his points within the flow of the offense while also doing dirty work of battling for boards. Thomas’ play will be key this year as the Mustangs look to make the jump into the upper echelon of teams in the New Orleans Metro area.

KIPP-BTW Stacked with Young Players

As good as Kyran Ratliff was, BTW was still without its top player, 2021 G Tyrese Johnson. He missed the game with an ankle injury but was expected to return to the lineup soon. He’s an absolute bull with the ball in his hands and the matchup between him and Hammond would have been an intriguing one.

At any rate, he’s only one of several non-seniors who will log major minutes this year. The list also includes 2020 G Michael Johnson, 2020 G Kentrell Harris, 2020 G Shapaca Smith, 2021 PG Coryell Pierce and 2022 G Christian Ferguson. All five players played significant roles in the Lions’ opener and their development could set the floor for how good the team will be.