Faragi Phillips built Whitehaven to press and play fast

High School
Tennessee

Posted On: 11/9/18 9:20 AM

Faragi Phillips enters year four at Whitehaven High School with a deep roster of talented guards, including a post player the Tigers desperately needed.

On Thursday night, Whitehaven hosted Booker T. Washington High School in a scrimmage where fans from both schools had a chance to see the product both coaches have. The Tigers are deeper than the Warriors and played faster than them Thursday night, coming out on top 35-17. Whitehaven pressed BTW’s guards and forced them into rushed scoring opportunities.

On the offensive end, the Tigers made at least four, sometimes, five passes before taking a shot. Phillips has a group of guards who are unselfish and aren’t afraid to shoot the long ball. Whitehaven is one of a few schools in the state this season with a number of guards who can run the floor, defend and score.

“That’s what we are going to do. We’re going to guard you full-court, put pressure on you, and hopefully we make shots,” Phillips said. “That’s what we are built around. We conditioned well. We have a deep team, so we’re going to wear teams down and also make you shoot 2s while we shoot 3s.”

The Tigers quickly built a 19-6 lead in the first six minutes of the scrimmage. Junior guard Matthew Murrell elevated high for a two-handed dunk to ignite the crowd that was followed by back-to-back 3s from junior guard Ragi Phillips. Junior guard Torrus Brooks made consecutive 3s of his own from deep.

Sophomore guard Desmond Bratcher made a trey in the second half of the scrimmage to maintain Whitehaven’s lead at 15. Murrell’s 3 pushed the Tigers’ lead to 18 late in the second half. In all, Whitehaven made seven shots from beyond the arc.

“They’re interchangeable. They all can play point guard,” Phillips said about his aura of guards. “I had the same kind of success at Mitchell. We had three point guards, especially late in the season. That gives us some leeway, in terms of how we want to play, multidimensional, hard for teams to press us, and we hope we can expose a mismatch most nights.”

The Tigers added much-needed size in the offseason in 7-foot-2 center Jordan Wilmore. When Wilmore arrived on campus, he was out of shape and didn’t realize the speed of high school basketball in Memphis, Tennessee until he witnessed it firsthand on the court.

Since then, Wilmore has physically improved and could have played in the entire scrimmage against the Warriors.

“Now, he’s understanding how fast we’re going to play, and how important him listening to us in practice about his conditioning, about being on top of what we’re asking him to do, so he won’t look like a fish out of water,” said Phillips, who won back-to-back state titles at Mitchell High School.