Cityscape: Memphis

Dating back to when Penny Hardaway primarily still went by Anfernee, Memphis took immense pride in its local basketball prodigies.

More than players from most cities, Memphis prospects have been sticky: A good head coach for the Tigers can build a program around the locals. That speaks not only to city pride on behalf of the kids themselves, but the fact that so many high-majors seem to emerge each year.

Take the 2014 class, for example. Two seniors competed for Memphis high schools and will make their way to high-major programs. Oddly enough, however, neither will play for Josh Pastner's Tigers. Chris Chiozza is a diminutive point guard headed to Florida, while power forward Leron Black will make his home at Illinois.

In 2015, although he's a native of Haiti, No. 7 overall junior Skal Labissiere plays for Evangelical Christian in nearby Cordova. No. 37, K.J. Lawson, is an early Memphis commitment and competes for Hamilton. Other juniors on the radar are top-100 wing Donte Fitzpatrick and three star point guard Nych Smith.

Among sophomores, elite forward Dedric Lawson (K.J.'s brother) leads the way. If one includes Labissiere, both he and Dedric appear to be strong contenders to become McDonald's All-Americans.

The prospect roll in Memphis doesn't match that of, say, Los Angeles. But then again, neither does the population. The city seems to get the most out of what it has, and the fact that the homegrown heroes are so well supported makes the town seem even more abundantly talented than it actually is.

And, obviously, there's no shortage of talent in the first place. We'll see a great deal of all the most noteworthy Memphis troops in the coming months.


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