People have favorites… Some won’t admit it… Not me…
I have favorites… I like some players more than others.
My favorites usually fall into one of 2 camps. Either, I believe they are the BEST players or I just LOVE the kids. A special few fit into both categories: Jamal Nichols, Jameer Nelson, Sr., DJ Newbill, Langston Galloway, Ryan Daly, Samme Givens, Donta Scott and Eric Dixon are some examples. Once they become a favorite, there’s literally nothing that can change that status… As my favorite Ol’ Head, Claude Gross, told me almost everyday, “I love you and ain’t a damn thing you can do about it.”
There are no rankings you are just a favorite… There is no BEST favorite, there’s no LEAST favorite… they are all the same…
Three area middle school players were basically born into Black Cager Sports “favorite” status: Tor Harrison, Jr., Kamal Yard, Jr. and Jarrod Denard, Jr. Indeed, Jarrod, Jr. was just a thought when his Dad, Jarrod, Sr. publicly thanked my man Marlon Garrett and I for helping “him get better as a player, and grow up…” as he committed to college.
I’ve known each of them for years now… I can’t remember meeting them and I know they can’t remember meeting me… You know… Just like your family…
These young men are exceedingly respectful, always thoughtful, super intelligent and mature. They are exactly what you want to see in young Black boys… When I see them, I am always excited to learn what’s going on in their lives.
“What up Boy?”
What follows is always fascinating…
Their fathers are my friends and that has resulted in a high level of trust and respect in my relationships with their sons. I am truly grateful that they allow me to be my loud, opinionated and authentic self with their boys. I look forward to the high school journey with each of them.
Well… I finally got to see one of my favorite middle school guys actually play basketball yesterday. Low and behold, I LOVE him and he’s one of the BEST middle school guards I’ve seen in recent years.
Jarrod Denard, Jr. is one of the leaders on a talent-laden Happy Hallow Elite 2027 team.
Although Jarrod and his teammates are only 7th graders, it was really hard to evaluate them as players because there was a significant talent gap between Happy Hallow and the 8th/9th graders they were facing.
Happy Hollow smoked ‘em… They were quicker, more athletic, better shooters, better passers, better defenders, more unselfish, more disciplined… Shit… They were just waaaaay better at basketball.
Even though the talent gap between the teams was huge, I was able to make a few basketball observations about one of my favorites. Jarrod is an advanced middle school basketball player. He understands how to play. At the middle school level, he’s one of the more prolific scorers in the region. Possesses good size for a Varsity HS point guard at 13, standing about 5’10″ with a nice wingspan. He uses his strong frame well to absorb contact around the rim. Jarrod is an extremely confident shooter that is dangerous at mid-range or well behind the HS 3-point arc. He doesn’t hesitate to square up from 22-25 away from the hoop. Needs very little space or time to get off a quality shot against middle school/junior high school competition. He is able to create his own shot or spot-up off the ball effectively. He handles the ball very well and uses quick, short dribbles and changes of direction/speed to keep defenders off balance. Jarrod is very aggressive in transition, always looking to make something happen. He is a quality passer, that has the ability to create for his teammates by driving into the lane and kicking the ball out. Most importantly, he appears to be a strong leader with a competitive drive… Like his Daddy!
Jarrod, Jr., as a 13 year old 7th grader, already possesses varsity High School talent, but like most middle school prospects, he hasn’t proved that he can consistently produce against elite HS level talent… YET! An elite high school program team looking for a tough, talented, scoring point guard would be well-served by catching Happy Hallow Elite and talking to Jarrod Denard, Sr. about his son’s educational plans.